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Whitey reveals secrets of his life on the run

Notorious gangster James "Whitey" Bulger told agents who arrested him last week that he returned to Boston in disguise and "armed to the teeth" several times during his 16 years on the run, it has been revealed.

Bulger's description of life in hiding were included in a memo filed yesterday by federal prosecutors who are objecting to Bulger's request for a taxpayer-funded attorney.

Bulger (81), the former leader of the infamous Winter Hill Gang who is charged in connection with 19 murders, was arrested in Santa Monica, California, last week, after spending years on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

Bulger, who was also a top-echelon FBI informant, fled Boston after he was tipped by his former FBI handler that he was about to be indicted.

While being brought back to Boston by federal agents, he "admitted that he had been a frequent traveller as a fugitive," Assistant US Attorneys Brian Kelly and Fred Wyshak Jr said in their memo. They said Bulger admitted travelling to Boston several times "armed to the teeth" because he "had to take care of some unfinished business". "Bulger refused to elaborate on whom he visited, when he visited, and who was with him on these trips to Boston," Kelly and Wyshak wrote.

Bulger also said he visited Las Vegas to play the slots and "claimed he won more than he lost". He also said he travelled to San Diego, then crossed the Mexican border to buy medications, according to the memo. The prosecutors also said Bulger told the US Pretrial Services office in Los Angeles that his brother, former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, may be willing to help post bail for Catherine Greig, Bulger's longtime girlfriend who was arrested with him after the couple was found in California. Greig is charged with harbouring a fugitive.

Kelly and Wyshak said the court should require an affidavit from William Bulger and another Bulger brother, John, before deciding whether Whitey Bulger is entitled to a public defender. Peter Krupp, an attorney who represented Whitey Bulger at his initial appearance in court last week, said no one in Bulger's family has offered to help him pay for his defence.

In their memo, prosecutors say that during his 16 years on the run, Bulger "financed a relatively comfortable lifestyle". After he was arrested, agents found $822,198 (f575,000) in cash in his apartment. Kelly said in court last week that prosecutors plan to seek forfeiture of the money. A hearing was due to be held today on Bulger's request for a public defender.