By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - Convicted gangster James "Whitey" Bulger has a message for members of Boston's criminal underworld: If you confess to a crime you committed, he's not coming for you.
Bulger was known for killing criminal associates he suspected of talking to police while he ran Boston's "Winter Hill" gang in the 1970s and '80s.
The message came in a series of prison letters Bulger sent to a lawyer who is trying to get a 1980 murder conviction overturned for his client, Fred Weichel.
"I am no longer a threat to LA and he can tell why he was silent," Bulger wrote, using a code name for the person that he believed murdered Robert LaMonica in 1980.
In letters to attorney Michael Ricciuti, Bulger said he knew the identity of the real killer but would not testify to it. Weichel contends he was wrongly convicted of the LaMonica killing.
"I have never gave any names, sought deal etc. or testified against any one," Bulger wrote.
Bulger said he knew the real killer's identity because he had advised him to murder LaMonica after the two feuded.
"My advice catch him and kill him & if his father's there give him the same - then is over," wrote Bulger, now 84.
Bulger was sentenced to life in prison in November for 11 murders he was convicted of committing while running Boston's "Winter Hill" gang in the 1970s and '80s
During his trial last year, Bulger's attorneys devoted most of their energy to denying prosecutors' contention that their client had served as an informant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Ricciuti filed the letters in Massachusetts Superior Court in Norfolk on Friday as part of Weichel's bid to have his conviction overturned. Weichel has been in prison for three decades.
While Bulger wrote that it would be "honorable" for the real killer to come forward, he said he would not identify the person in court on his own.
Bulger also complained of heart trouble and urged the attorney to interview him soon if he wanted his testimony.
"Keep my letters just in case - father time comes calling," said the mobster whose story inspired the 2006 Academy Award-winning film "The Departed." Bulger added that he had received many letters in prison, writing that "many religious people out there want to save my soul and get me into heaven."
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Dan Grebler)