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Jul 6, 2011 6:45 AM by Kate Richards

Bulger to return to federal court today on 19 murder charges

BOSTON (AP) - Former reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, who escaped prosecution for 16 years until he was captured last month in California, is set to return to federal court in Boston to enter a plea on 19 murder charges.

Bulger is to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, formally responding to criminal charges for the first time in nearly two decades.

Prosecutors allege that the 81-year-old former head of Boston's notorious Winter Hill Gang was involved in the killings to eliminate rivals, silence potential witnesses and divert investigators' attention from other slayings.

Bulger was caught in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 22.

He was an FBI informant who provided information on his gang's main rivals and fled after an agent leaked to him word of an impending indictment.

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