Return to Transcripts main page


Colorado Wildfires; Syria Game Changer; Cancer Charity Rip-off Exposed; Whitey Bulger's Path to Infamy; Bulger Stoic in Court

Aired June 13, 2013 - 22:00   ET



A lot of breaking news tonight, Syria crossing the chemical weapons red line, Colorado wildfires and brutal weather hitting another big chunk of the country.

Also tonight, a "Keeping Them Honest" report that is going to make your blood boil. But you have got to see it to believe it. A few cancer charities have taken hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. Well, we found out what they're really doing with your money, and it's not helping the people in need.

Later, he shared a spot on the most wanted list with Osama bin Laden and was even harder to find. Now Whitey Bulger is in court, back in Boston, the city where some saw him as a likable rogue. Far more knew him as a terrifying mob boss. And 19 families are still mourning the loved ones he's accused of murdering.

We begin tonight with the breaking news of the fires that have now turned thousands of acres in Colorado and hundreds of homes to ashes, the worst wildfires in state history. The flames have also sent tens of thousands of people fleeing.

Martin Savidge has been in the fire zone from the start.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colorado's Black Forest fire is barely contained and now deadly, claiming two lives. The number of homes destroyed by Colorado's Black Forest fire in less than 24 hours has more than tripled.

It's now the most destructive blaze in state history and officials say it's far from done.

Jack Hinton was one of many to get the bad news.

JACK HINTON, FIRE VICTIM: When you hear a total loss, you almost go numb. You just -- you look at each other and we cried a little bit and we just try to decide what is next.

SAVIDGE: But the racing flames are consuming homes faster than officials can keep track, even re-burning in areas previously spared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homes we knew were standing yesterday, I personally witnessed go down last night.

SAVIDGE: Many evacuees can only wonder what they will find once they are allowed to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is what it is. So I either have a house or I don't have a house. There is nothing I can do about that.

SAVIDGE: Black Forest is a type one fire, the worst there is, making it a national priority. Already, thousands have been forced to evacuate with more joining them daily as the evacuation zone continues to grow.

Hundreds of firefighters struggle against 30- to 35-mile-per hour winds that push the winds in ever-changing directions. Helicopters and military planes drop water and flame retardant. And Black Forest is just one of three fires scorching Colorado.

To the south is the Royal Gorge fire that continues to burn in the popular tourist destination. At least 20 structures have been destroyed and a suspension bridge damaged, while a lightning-sparked fire burns hundreds of acres in Rocky Mountain National Park. For now, weather forecasters predict no end to the severe conditions feeding the fires or to the heartache the flames continue to bring.


COOPER: The images are stunning.

Martin Savidge joins me now.

Marty, you have been talking with fire commanders. What is it going to take to stop these fires, particularly that Black Forest fire?

SAVIDGE: It's going to take a change of the weather and specifically, it's got to take the dropping of the winds. They say that's the biggest problem they are dealing with right now.

It's a huge problem because the winds keep shifting and with it, of course, the flames, very unpredictable, especially when it gets into the certain areas, the rifts and the valleys and things like that. So, that's the biggest problem. The wind has to die down and then on top of that, temperatures have got to go down, the humidity levels have got to come up. It's nature that is controlling everything right now, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. And it's been less than a year since the previous record of worst Colorado fires. Are they increasing? Is this because of the drought?

SAVIDGE: They are. They are increasing and that's a worry of course for anyone who lives along the front range here, because it's a significant problem.

Waldo Canyon fire, you just pointed out that was 346 homes that were destroyed at that point. Many people said, well, it will be a long time before we're ever threatened by something that bad. It wasn't a long time. It was less than one year. I covered that fire. And now authorities here are facing something even worse.

And the problem is 346 was where that fire ended. This one is still going. It's still ramping up. The problem is drought, as you mentioned. The other problem is the fact that this is a very popular area. People love to live here. More have come. The other problem is a lot of these homes are built right into the trees that they love, but that are so dangerous right now.

COOPER: And what is the answer, more firefighters, equipment? What?

SAVIDGE: You know, the fire officials say that there are times, that there are conditions where it wouldn't matter what you have, and we're in those conditions right now. They say you could have a fire engine on every street. They could not have stopped these flames. It's not more equipment, more people, and more aircraft.

It's basically going to require a change of lifestyle. Homes are going to have to be built differently. Codes are going to have to be toughened. Fire resistance is going to be something built in. And this is something that will take years to bring about, but it has to be a change of mind-set first of all, Anderson.

COOPER: Marty, thanks. Stay safe.

We're joined now by Jaenette and Kristian Coyne. With flames coming fast, they packed up the computer, the baby album, and took what they could. They got themselves and their 20-month-old daughter to safety. They made it. They made the right choice. Their home was destroyed. The Coyne watched it burn on the news from a local fire station. Unbelievable.

Jaenette, Kristian, I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so glad your safe. How are you both holding up right now?

KRISTIAN COYNE, LOST HOME: We have had a couple days to process. We knew on Tuesday. We saw it live on TV. So, you know, with 48 hours to think about it and deal with some insurance and everything, we have got a refreshed state of mind.

COOPER: Jaenette...

JAENETTE COYNE, LOST HOME: We have a lot of friends and family supporting us.

COOPER: You have a lot of friends and family supporting you. Jaenette, you had actually just gotten home when you saw the smoke. What do you do in that situation?

J. COYNE: I went to see what it was because I wasn't sure what it -- if it was very big, and when I got out there, I realized it was probably bigger than something I should deal with. So that's when I dialled 911, ran home and called Kristian. He lives -- or he works very close to our home.

He raced home. We literally had five minutes and we left because it was -- the flames were there. COOPER: And, five minutes, what do you what do you take? What do you grab?

J. COYNE: The first thing I grabbed was the baby album. Then I grabbed our personal computer because all of our pictures are on that computer. We grabbed the fire box which houses our passports, Social Security cards, and that was it. We just -- we had to leave.

COOPER: Thank goodness you had a fire box. That was incredibly smart and well-prepared.

Kristian, when you got home and you saw how close the fire was, what first went through your mind?

K. COYNE: I didn't actually see the flames, like Jaenette did. I saw the smoke bearing down and I was freaked. You can't even describe what goes through your mind.

COOPER: Jaenette, you wouldn't have been allowed back into your home, but you actually saw it burning on television. I can't imagine anything worse than that.

J. COYNE: Yes, it was probably the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. You have that moment where you say, is that really my house? But we knew it was. However, now I'm grateful that I know. A lot of people here just don't know. And we are able to process it because we know where we stand.

Unfortunately, we saw it 50 times over and over and over on the news, but at least we know.

COOPER: Kristian, what do you do now? I mean, how do you pick up and move forward? You said you have had some time to process this, but how do you start picking up the pieces?

K. COYNE: One minute at a time.

J. COYNE: We don't know yet.

K. COYNE: Yes, at this point, you know, we have no idea of the status of our property, if it's -- you know, if all our trees are completely burned down or, you know, if it's something that we can rebuild on.

J. COYNE: We're focused right now on our friends and family that are still -- our friends and neighbors who are still impacted by this fire. It's a completely out-of-control situation, and, really, we're worried about the people around us, the people we care about and our community. And I think that's what we're trying to focus on right now, and we will figure out where we head tomorrow.

COOPER: Well, you're good neighbors. And I appreciate you talking to us.

And, again, I'm so sorry for your loss of your house and thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

K. COYNE: Thank you.

J. COYNE: Thank you.

COOPER: As you can see from the wind there from Martin Savidge's report, the weather plainly making things tough out there for firefighters.


COOPER: Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

Next, more breaking news: The White House says Syria has been using nerve gas on its own people, crossing that red line that President Obama had talked about being a game changer. So, tonight, the question is, what exactly changes and how deeply involved is America going to get in Syria?

Later, a "Keeping Them Honest" report I really urge you to see. If you're a regular viewer of this program, you know we have exposed charities that abuse and squander the hard-earned dollars that you donate. We have looked at veterans charities, but we have never seen any charities like these, these alleged cancer charities. We will show you them ahead.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight.

President Obama called it a red line, a game changer, solid evidence now that Syria's Assad regime is using chemical evidence against its own people or has.

This evening, the White House said they have that evidence and are acting it, sending more support to the opposition Supreme Military Council -- quote -- "different in scope and scale" -- end quote -- than before.

So a lot of questions, how was this decision reached and the timing of it, what happens next and what are the complications?

Here with some answers, chief national correspondent John King, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and former Bush homeland security adviser Fran Townsend, who currently sits on the CIA External Advisory Board.

Christiane, what do you make of this?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I make of it that the president has come to the conclusion that his allies have already come to, that is, that chemical weapons have been used, 100 to 150 at least have been killed, sarin gas, only by the Assad regime, not by the rebels, as some were trying to claim.

The British and French have already made that -- we interviewed General Salim Idris weeks ago and his doctors on the ground, who told us about all their tests, their body samples, their soil samples that prove that sarin has been used.

So, why is he doing it now? I think he is going to be meeting with a lot of these leaders during the G8. Plus, they are very freaked out and they should be that Iran and Hezbollah have gone in and basically captured near Qusayr, a very, very strategic town near Homs that the rebels had that was able to supply them, and now they are very concerned that the Assad regime is going to go against Aleppo and get Aleppo.

And I just was talking to Salim Idris, and he is very, very concerned about the head of the Syrian Military Council on the ground in Syria. They are very worried that the whole ground has shifted and Assad is on the verge potentially of winning, but they need much more than what Ben Rhodes did not outline. We don't know what they are getting.

COOPER: Well, Fran, that's the -- A., we don't know what they're thing. What do you make of the timing of this? Do you see it as a coincidence?


Anderson, look, they have been wringing their hands for weeks after, as Christiane says, our allies have been very clear that they believed this was the case. We know that the U.S. military had gotten planning orders. That doesn't mean they are going to act. But it's clear almost a year ago that the U.S. military was planning for different contingencies, a no-fly zone, the securing of chemical weapons depots.

And so the question really becomes did they wait until they had made internally a decision, not one they are yet prepared to announce, about what actions they are willing to take as a result of the crossing of the red line? Otherwise, it's sort of incomprehensible. What were you waiting for?

COOPER: John, in terms of what actions they are willing to take, they haven't gone into many specifics today on a call. And other than, you know, arming the opposition, what -- I mean, there is a lot of details that need to be worked out, what exactly that would mean.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of details that need to be worked out, Anderson.

And then the big question, once you get in -- and the administration insists it is getting in now in a limited way -- if the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate, and by that continues to go in Assad's favor, do you then -- have you made an investment in which you have to do more?

I will tell you this. The administration is being very careful about the details, but I'm told tonight by a senior administration official that there is now, is, not will be, is now direct U.S. military assistance on the ground in Syria, something that did not exist if we were having this conversation just a few days ago.

As to exactly what that is, exactly who it's going to, the administration is not prepared to talk about that as yet. Some members of Congress have been briefed on this. I'm told we will hear from the president about this if not tomorrow, within several days, because they do understand at the White House now once they have now decided to step across this red line, if you will, with the Assad regime, they need to give a better explanation to the American people of just what they are prepared to do and what they are prepared not to do.

COOPER: And, Christiane, who they are prepared to actually give this aid to.

AMANPOUR: Well, they know that there is a Syrian military opposition that is aligned with the Syrian National Council. They know who they are giving these weapons to. There's no doubt about that.

And what they need to do is bolster the moderates, because, otherwise, guess who is getting the weapons? The extremists, yes, from wherever they can get them.


AMANPOUR: So, if you want to have influence in Syria, if you want the back the people who you know and who may be friendly to you afterwards, you got to get in there and help them.

Right now, they are telling me that they have AK-47s and RPGs and not much else. Assad has airpower, helicopter power, heavy already. And we have seen the result. Plus, he has ground troops, shock troops coming from Hezbollah supported by Iran. It is a very unbalanced situation.

COOPER: There is a lot of Americans who do not want to see the U.S. get involved military again in the Middle East, given what is going on in Afghanistan and what went on in Iraq. Is this a potential quagmire?

TOWNSEND: Oh, certainly. Look, Anderson, there is no question because what people must understand is the proxy nature of what is going on.

You not only have the extremists of the Al-Nusra Front, and you have got the rebels who are fighting and trying to just survive at this point. You also have Hezbollah and Iranian influence there. You have got the Russians who care about the port in Tartus, which we have spoken about over the last two years.


COOPER: Huge sectarian divisions as well. I mean, there is Alawites. There's all these different groups.


AMANPOUR: And it developed by the force of inaction.

The force of inaction has created what we're seeing on the ground right now. All the scare tactics, all the worst-case scenarios that the administration and others talked about, some of them legitimate obviously, have now happened by force of inaction, because the ground has been cemented, with the Assad regime having the majority of the firepower and the manpower, and the rebels being basically left alone, until the extremists come in and get their weapons from the kinds of people neither you nor I nor the administration wants to see have power in Syria.

COOPER: John, there is also the question what happens say Assad is overthrown or gotten rid one way or another. Then what happens?

KING: That is a big question, but, Anderson, the fact that we're having this conversation tonight shows how much the coin has flipped, if you will, because for more than a year now, the president of the United States has said it's not a question of if Assad will fall, it's only a question of when.

Well, tonight, actually, because of the advances on the ground in the last week or two, it is a question of if. And the administration realizes that. Assad has regained the upper hand, which complicates things here. And so none of the choices here are good. As the White House -- you talk to the White House, they say they range from bad to worse to very worse.

But you have what Fran calls, rightly so, a proxy situation in Syria. The Iranians are invested. Hezbollah is invested. Look at the map of this neighborhood. It's the most complicated neighborhood in the world. Every time you look at it, you think it can't get worse or more complicated, and it does.

The president though right now is making an investment and the question is, how deep is he willing to go? How much support is he willing to give? And when he sits down with those leaders at the G8, how much more are the Brits, the French, how much more are the Arab allies willing to do? The president though by making this investment increases his personal stake, his personal responsibility in the outcome.

COOPER: Christiane Amanpour, Fran Townsend, thanks, John King as well.

One quick note from Jessica Yellin. While national security staffer Ben Rhodes was briefing the media on Syria, President Obama was speaking at a separate event. He made no mention of Syria, perhaps keeping his distance from the issue.

Next, we don't use superlatives like unbelievable often on this program, but our next story is nothing short of that, cancer charities that abuse and squander your hard-earned donations like none we have never seen before. We're "Keeping Them Honest." I urge you to watch it.

Later, once one of America's most wanted fugitives and Boston's best known villain goes on trial. Whitey Bulger, the prosecution calls him a hands-on killer who did the dirty work himself, while the FBI men did his bidding. What could be the final chapter to a truly incredible crime story -- when we continue. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, a yearlong investigation by "The Tampa Bay Times," the Center for Investigative Reporting and previous reporting here on A.C. 360 shows that a small but aggressive segment of the charity world seems to care little about actually helping others.

Instead, it generates six-figure salaries for some of people who run the charities and feeds a multibillion-dollar professional solicitation industry that only cares about profit. And what we have also found out is that no matter how blatant the scam or how obvious the proof is that donations are being squandered, no one seems to be going after them.

CNN's investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, tonight "Keeping Them Honest."


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Drive down these country roads outside Knoxville, Tennessee, and into this small industrial park, and you will find the headquarters of a family conglomerate of cancer charities that return lavish salaries to their owners, but according to their own tax records, donate very little to dying cancer patients, and the last thing the people running this charity want to do is answer questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't -- don't turn your camera on me. OK?

GRIFFIN: Across the country, in Mesa, Arizona, another outpost of the conglomerate, it's called the Breast Cancer Society. Its CEO and executive director, the man escaping in the truck, James Reynolds Jr.

(on camera): Excuse me, sir, Mr. Reynolds. Hey, excuse me, Mr. Reynolds, right here, buddy, Mr. Reynolds. Hi, hi, can you stop for a second? No, where you going Mr. Reynolds? Mr. Reynolds.

(voice-over): Back in Knoxville, there is another cancer charity, the Children's Cancer Fund of America, and this one run by yet another member of the family, Rose Perkins.

(on camera): Hi. Is Rose Perkins in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's not available and she's not doing any interviews.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Why wouldn't she do us any interviews? She's running a charity here for kids with cancer. Right? That seems like a good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. That's what I have been just told to tell you she's not doing interviews.

GRIFFIN: Can you tell us what you guys do, any positive things you do with the money you collect? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can send your questions to her e-mail.

GRIFFIN: OK. What is that e-mail?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we will answer it.

GRIFFIN: If you were asking us for money, what would you say you did with your money?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We help children with cancer.

GRIFFIN: How do you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean how do we do that? We help children with cancer.

GRIFFIN: Yes, how? In what way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We provide them a financial assistance.

GRIFFIN: Financial assistance?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have any questions, please send them to her e-mail.

GRIFFIN: OK. My question...

(voice-over): Rose Perkins did e-mail us and tell us her charity has a clear conscience "because we feel we are making a good difference in people's lives," but also told us an interview is "not something we can consider."

That may be because of the questions we'd like to ask her and the other members of her extended family, who are essentially making a living on your donations.

Rose Perkins, the CEO of the Children's Cancer Fund, is paid $227,442 a year. Her ex-husband, James Reynolds Sr., is president and CEO of Cancer Fund of America. He gets paid $236,815. And James Reynolds Jr., president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Society, has a salary of $261,609.

It's money that comes from donors like you who in 2011 sent these three charities $26 million in cash. How much of those donations actually went to helping cancer patients? According to the charity's own tax records, about 2 percent in cash.

Example, the Cancer Fund of America raised $6 million through its fund-raising campaign in 2011 and gave away just $14,940 in cash. But that is not what you would hear from the telemarketers hired by the Cancer Fund of America run by James Reynolds Sr.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. How much of my $10 will go -- who is this to? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cancer Fund of America support services.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One hundred percent of your donation goes into the fund where we purchase medical supplies for these cancer patients. We also do the hospice care for the terminally ill and we supply over 600 hospice offices with medical supplies all over the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. But how much of my $10 will go...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It goes 100 percent towards the charity itself. I'm calling directly from the charity, and not a telemarketing agency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, well, that's great, then.

GRIFFIN: According to the Iowa attorney general's office, which gave us these recordings, those phone call statements are one great big lie. The callers were telemarketers being paid to make the call. The state of Iowa fined the telemarketing company $35,000 for making false representations.

As for donations to other charities, the Cancer Fund of America claimed on its 2011 tax filings it sent $761,000 in so-called "gifts in kind," not actually cash, to churches, some hospitals and other programs around the country.

When we called or e-mailed those other charities to check, many of them said they did get something, things like these supplies. But several of the groups told us they never heard of the Cancer Fund of America or don't remember getting a thing.

The cancer fund also takes credit for serving as a middleman, brokering transfer of another $16 million worth of gifts in kind to individuals and other charities, many of them overseas. Those contributions double up both as revenue and donations on the same tax forms.

Back at the Cancer Fund of America's corporate office, even the chief financial officer, who by the way, has a salary of $121,000, couldn't explain what was happening.

(on camera): We just have all these -- Mississippi North Medical Center, never heard of you. Yolanda Barco Oncology Institute, nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if that's one of the ones we looked up, but again, you would have to talk to him.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The "him" is James Reynolds Senior, the founder, who finally told us in an e-mail, his boy thought it unwise to talk to CNN. Even though in a different e-mail he called the news of phantom donations, quote, "most disturbing."

As for his son, James Reynolds Jr. and his charity in Arizona.

(on camera): Hey, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The camera needs to stay outside.

GRIFFIN: Can he stay right there? Is Mr. Reynolds here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, he's not in right now.

GRIFFIN: The public relations officer for the Breast Cancer Society, Kristina Hisson, who by the way, is married to James Reynolds Jr., sent us e-mails telling us the Breast Cancer Society's "guiding mission is to provide relief to those who suffer from the effects of breast cancer" and that "we've made a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of men and women." But declined our request for an on- camera interview.

And when our camera found James Reynolds Jr., he made sure we got the message with a single finger salute.


COOPER: Drew, this is just unbelievable. I mean, you've done so much great reporting on this and on veterans' charities that are scams. But I mean, these people's faces, I feel like, should be put on T- shirts, and everybody should see their faces and know their names because what they're doing is just horrific.

The fact that they're running away like cockroaches from your cameras, I mean, that tells you all you need to know. If you're running a charity and you're asking for people's money, you have nothing to hide. I mean, you're doing nothing wrong; you should have nothing to hide. It's unbelievable to me.

What's your estimate on how much cancer patients and some community groups actually did receive from the Cancer Fund of America and these other charities?

GRIFFIN: We took a look at these IRS tax records, their own reporting, along with the center -- Centers for Investigative Reporting and "The Tampa Bay Times." Anderson, we think it's just about 2 percent. Think of it: you give one of these charities a dollar, they'll give 2 cents in goods to somebody out there, and that's just kind of our best guesstimate of this. It is really -- as you say, it's ridiculous.

COOPER: And the fact that it's like fathers and ex-wives and the girlfriends and brothers, I mean, this is just insane. These people are probably living it up in country clubs in their communities, and I bet people in the community have no idea of what they are doing and people that they are socializing with. And these people should be, you know, put on posters I feel like. Are regulators concerned because it certainly seems like they should be?

GRIFFIN: Look, you and I have been doing these stories now, Anderson, for a year and a half. Now we do know, we have a source with direct knowledge that says that Cancer Fund of America leaders have been deposed in part of a multi-state review of these charities by various state agencies, but let's be honest: we've been laying this out for a year and a half. We've had interest from the Senate Finance Committee.

I'm coming to you live from Cincinnati where IRS workers had time to review applications for Tea Party groups, but nothing seems to get done when we lay it all out.

We and our partners have a list now of the 50 worst charities in America on our Web site, and we're showing you how bad it is. I just don't understand why no one in government, whether it be state or federal, can do anything to stop this.

COOPER: Do we have still photos? Control room, do we have some still photos of these people? Let's just put them up. I just want to look at these people again and say their names.

James Reynolds Jr. there on the left; James Reynolds Sr., the charming guy who said his board thought it wasn't a good idea. And Rose Perkins. I mean, these people are -- literally, they're running away. It's like in that old "60 Minutes" piece. Mike Wallace walks into a garage and people start running away. He's like, "Why are y'all running away like cockroaches?" That's what these people are doing.

I challenge any of these people -- we will give them an interview. If you don't want to talk to Drew, you can talk to me any time, anywhere. I will come down and meet you if you don't want to talk to Drew. I mean, this is unbelievable.

We're going to stay on this. Drew, appreciate the reporting. Thank you. Incredible.

Just ahead, at 83 years old, the Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger is finally standing trial for the alleged crimes he committed as a much younger man, including 19 murders. The drama inside the courtroom today.

Plus, potentially damaging testimony in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. What executives from the concert promoter's parent company were saying about the pop star just days before his death.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" now. Day two in the trial of Whitey Bulger. The defendant, now 83 years old, is charged with crimes he allegedly committed decades ago as the leader of a notorious gang in South Boston.

In opening statements, prosecutors described Bulger as a hands-on killer, a kingpin who did his own dirty work. He's charged with racketeering and 19 murders. Later, the latest on today's testimony, but first, Randi Kaye traces Bulger's path to infamy.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whoever would have guessed this bright-eyed, blond-haired teenager would grow up to be one of the most notorious gangsters of our time?

Born in 1929 in South Boston, James Bulger was a fitness buff whose platinum hair earned him the nickname Whitey. It wasn't until his 20s that James "Whitey" Bulger started robbing banks and cultivating his image.

"Boston Globe" reporter Shelley Murphy says he wanted to be seen as an honorable criminal, the Robin Hood of South Boston. He'd often cruise the neighborhood, offering rides home to elderly.

SHELLEY MURPHY, REPORTER, "BOSTON GLOBE": So when people would sit around on the stoop sort of in the project and saying, "He's out there. He's a robber; he's criminal," the women would say, "Oh, that Jimmy Bulger, he's a nice boy."

KAYE: A nice boy with a nose for trouble.

In the 1950s Bulger was sent to federal prison for bank robbery, then transferred to Alcatraz. After his release in 1965, Bulger became a top lieutenant in the Winter Hill Gang and began to solidify his reputation as a vicious gangster.

MURPHY: Nothing happened in south Boston without Whitey's blessing, and you know, people were terrified.

KAYE: Terrified because Bulger was considered a cold-blooded killer. After he and partner Steve Fleming gained control of the Winter Hill Gang in 1979, Bulger allegedly took part in 19 murders, including these two women, who may have known his secret: Whitey was working with the FBI.

Kevin Weeks was Bulger's right-hand man.

KEVIN WEEKS, FORMER MOBSTER: They were killed and then their teeth were pulled to prevent the identification.

KAYE (on camera): Bulger denies harming those women. He also denies ever helping the FBI, but in 1997, the "Boston Globe" revealed he had been working with FBI agent John Connolly since 1975. It may have worked to his advantage: if someone went to the FBI with information about Whitey, he heard about it, and those people got killed.

MURPHY: This is about a corrupt relationship with the FBI. The government has tried to hang it all on one agent and make him the scapegoat for all the failings, but we've seen, you know, files that that show that the FBI and the Justice Department at very high levels knew he was a suspect in murders, at least four murders just in a two- year span, and continued to use him as an FBI informant.

KAYE (voice-over): Connolly was later prosecuted for racketeering and obstruction of justice. Other members of Whitey's gang have said Connolly agreed to leak information to him and his partner as a favor to Whitey's brother, who was president of the Massachusetts State Senate. They all grew up together in South Boston.

Whether or not Bulger was using information he gained from the FBI to take out his enemies, why the FBI was protecting him will be a key issue at his trial.

In 1995 when investigators decided to indict Bulger, it was John Connolly who warned him, giving him time to skip town. Whitey Bulger fled Boston, was later joined by his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, and managed to disappear.

After tips and alleged Whitey spottings all over the world, he and Greig settled into a modest apartment in Santa Monica. They paid their rent in cash, and neighbors knew them as a retired couple, Charlie and Carol Gasco.

For 16 years, they managed to avoid capture, but in 2011 investigators got the break they needed, thanks to a national ad campaign spotlighting Whitey's girlfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen this woman? The FBI is offering $100,000 for tips leading to Catherine Greig's whereabouts.

KAYE (on camera): CNN broadcast a story about the ad, and a former beauty queen living in Iceland recognized Greig. She used to live in the same Santa Monica neighborhood as Greig and Bulger, so she quickly called the FBI.

(voice-over): After brief surveillance to confirm the tip, agents moved in. After all those years on the run, finally, at 81, James "Whitey" Bulger was in custody.

RICHARD DESLAURIERS, FBI, BOSTON DIVISION: We have captured one of the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives, a man notorious in Boston and around the world.

KAYE: Inside the couple's apartment agents found more than $800,000 in cash, stuffed into the walls.

In 2012, Catherine Greig was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Whitey.

KEVIN REDDINGTON, CATHERINE GREIG'S ATTORNEY: She was and is in love with Mr. Bulger, and she's certainly a person who does not regret what she did in living her life with him.

KAYE: Now, it's Whitey Bulger's turn.

MURPHY: The two things he most wants to, you know, prove at trial is that he was not an FBI informant, and he also wants to try to prove that he did not strangle two women, who are among the 19 victims he's accused of killing. And the reason for that is good bad guys don't strangle women, and they do not rat on their friends.

KAYE: Whitey Bulger's defense team says he may take the stand but not before jurors spend the next few months listening to testimony from law enforcement and from a handful of henchmen who now want to see their former crime boss pay.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: Incredible history. CNN's Deborah Feyerick is covering the trial. She was in the courtroom today and joins us now from Boston. So what was it like in the courtroom? I mean, how -- how does this guy appear to you?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's so fascinating, because you have to remember this is a man who spend decades trying to avoid the spotlight, and now he is completely exposed.

He sits in the center of the courtroom between the witness box and the jury. He never moves. He barely moves. He just sits, looks straight ahead. He never acknowledges the witnesses. He never looks back at who's sitting in the back rows. He looks straight ahead at the monitor. He switches out his glasses ever now and again. But otherwise, he just sits there very stoically.

The only time I actually saw him move today, Anderson, was when prosecutors introduced a number of weapons, one of them a mag 10 pistol with a silencer. It was more than 12 inches long. It was the only time I really saw him turn his head. But he's just listening to this litany of crimes that he's been accused of and the evidence against him. He barely moves, Anderson.

COOPER: It would be fascinating if he did take the stand.

Those surveillance videos of him from 30 years ago are really interesting to look at. They were played in court today, yes?

KAYE: They were. And that's another interesting point. And that is, you know, these are surveillance videos that were taken 30 years ago when Whitey Bulger was at the height of his power. And it shows him meeting with known mob figures, both Irish and Italian. And it's important that there are those who are Italian, because he said, no, he couldn't have been an informant. He knew nothing about La Cosa Nostra. So those are key pieces of evidence.

You also see him at phone booths placing phone calls. So the question is whether he even knew until he was arrested that those videos actually existed, because he thought he had the lock on making sure that, when he was being investigated, when he was being watched, that there was no evidence of that, Anderson.

COOPER: Amazing. Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much.

Coming up, testimony in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial reveals what executives from the concert promoter's parent company were saying about Jackson's mental well-being just days before he actually died.

Also, "The RidicuList" ahead.


COOPER: There's a lot more happening tonight. Randi Kaye is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi. KAYE: Anderson, testimony in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial revealed that his concert promoter CEO wrote to another executive saying Jackson was having a mental breakdown just days before his death. And the other executive then replied, asking if it was preshow nerves bad or get a straightjacket, call our insurance carrier bad?

The judge in the George Zimmerman murder trial announced today that jurors will be sequestered for what's expected to be a two- to four- week trial. Jury selection now underway.

One person was killed and at least 75 others were injured when an explosion rocked a chemical plant south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This photo taken by a plant worker and given to our affiliate, WAFB, shows people fleeing the plant with flames behind them. No word yet on what sparked the explosion.

The inspector of the building that collapsed in Philadelphia last week has taken his own life. The incident left six people dead. There's a criminal probe underway. However, authorities say the inspector was not a target of it.

Steven Spielberg is predicting an implosion of the movie industry, according to "The Hollywood Reporter." Spielberg says, with several high-budget films flopping and changing the paradigm, that could drive ticket prices way up.

And a California man accidentally sold his wife's $23,000 wedding ring at a garage sale for 10 bucks. He thought he was selling an empty watch box. Low and behold, his wife had put her ring in there before he went to the hospital to have a baby -- Anderson.

Randi, thanks.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList," and tonight we're adding heavy metal haters. That's right: you heard me correctly. I'm going to bat for heavy-metal music, or more specifically, heavy-metal songs about me.

Like "Uptown Girl" and "Tiny Dancer" before me, I, Anderson Cooper, am now the subject of a soulful balled. The name of the song: Well, it's called "Anderson Cooper," which let's be honest, has a certain understated charm, much like myself, if I do say so myself. The band's name is Cryptic Murmurs, and I think this song really captures my easy-going essence.



GRAPHIC: Anderson Cooper! Anderson Cooper! CNN cyborg!

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Eat your heart out, Metallica. Take note, Wolf Blitzer, because I shall henceforth be known as Anderson Cooper, CNN cyborg. I'm not quite sure that is a compliment. But let's face it: look, I've been called worse.

Now, if you will indulge me, I want you to all sit back, put your feet up, and get ready for another soothing clip from my new theme song.



GRAPHIC: Usually has a stern look on his face. Stands in the middle of hurricanes.


COOPER: Does "face" rhyme with "hurricanes"?

The -- it is really the musical equivalent of a warm bath, if you ask me. OK, it's true, I sometimes do stand in the middle of hurricanes. But I reject the idea that I always have a stern look on my face. Sometimes I have an annoyed look on my face. Thank you very much.

But you know, I cannot get mad because, honestly, this song is making me feel so warm and cozy. I mean, just -- you have to soak in some more of it.



GRAPHIC: Has never lost his composure... ever... not even once.


COOPER: Yes, yes, thank you, thank you. All these years I've been waiting for someone to come along and vouch for my hard news chops, my unflappability, if you will. And now the folks at Cryptic Murmurs have stepped forward to remind the world that I, Anderson Cooper, CNN cyborg, have never once lost my composure, except when I'm laughing uncontrollably like a little girl.

And now we're not going to play that clip again, so just calm down. But let's check back in with Cryptic Murmur, shall we, and see -- see what else they have to say about me, perhaps something about my nose for news or my dapper suit coats.



GRAPHIC: Stole his hair from the mane of Pegasus.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I stole my hair from the mane of a Pegasus? First of all, do not try to trip me up with references to Greek mythology. I have a degree, and by degree, I mean I Googled what a Pegasus was.

Second of all, what are they even talking about? OK. You know what? Whatever. That Pegasus wishes he had my hair, not to mention my steely blue eyes.

But no worries, Cryptic Murmurs. I thank you for your tribute. I am flattered, flattered to the extent that my cyborg body will allow me to feel any emotions whatsoever.

And as for you, heavy-metal haters, wipe that stern look off your face or else you won't get invited to the party backstage on "The RidicuList."

OK, that's it for us. Thanks for watching.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erin Burnett live from Tehran tonight. The presidential elections are in the final countdown. What does the change here mean for the United States?

Plus, the mysterious Ayatollah Khamenei. He's the supreme leader, and he's the one who says that this election is crucial to, quote, "dash the enemy's hopes." What does he mean? We have a special report.

Plus, we have breaking news on Syria from the White House.