The Big Show, as some call it, is on in Boston. That is the trial of 83-year-old mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, who is accused of murder, racketeering, extortion and other charges.
Mr. Bulger has tried to portray himself as a good bad guy, loyal to the old South Boston neighborhood. To this point in the trial he has been more interested in not being thought of as an informer than as a murderer. But his belated efforts to be Robin Hood have largely been dispelled by prosecutors and journalists: He is a sadistic racketeer who preyed on the old neighborhood and anything else he could get his hands on.
He is not unknown in Connecticut; he tried to gain control of the company that owned the former Hartford jai alai fronton, resulting in the shooting deaths of two executives. Work by Connecticut prosecutors and journalists helped unravel the sordid mess.
It took time because Mr. Bulger had, amazingly, corrupted the Boston office of the FBI where, over three decades beginning in the 1960s, 18 FBI agents either broke the law or violated federal guidelines. That this could happen at this scale is deeply troubling.
A corrupt FBI agent tipped Mr. Bulger to an imminent indictment in 1995, allowing him to flee. He managed to stay on the lam for 16 years, raising the question of whether he had more official help. He and his girlfriend were captured in Santa Monica, Calif., where they were living quietly in an apartment complex favored by senior citizens.
Finally, there remains the relationship between James Bulger and his brother William, one of the most powerful political figures in Massachusetts for decades. Was William his brother's keeper?
In all, a disturbing, but fascintating, chapter in New England criminal justice.