By DENISE LAVOIE,  AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) _ Reputed mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was taken to a hospital last week for an irregular heartbeat, the latest of at least three trips to the hospital since the 83-year-old was captured in 2011 after nearly 17 years on the run.

Richard Sunday, a friend of Bulger’s, said he received a letter from Bulger this week saying he was taken to a hospital Feb. 12 for atrial fibrillation.

After being examined, Bulger was returned to the Plymouth Country Correctional Facility, where he is awaiting a June trial. Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is charged with participating in 19 murders.

In the letter, Bulger wrote, “Exercise is over for me,” Sunday said. Bulger, a longtime fitness buff, wrote in earlier letters that he has been held in his cell 23 hours a day and is only let out to exercise a few times a week, Sunday said.

He and Bulger served time together in a federal prison in Atlanta and on Alcatraz in California during the 1950s and 1960s.

Bulger also wrote that he has had “lots of time to think” in prison.

“So far, I’ve had a year and a half and a lifetime to go,” he wrote. “This is the end of the trail for me.”

Sunday said he is concerned about that the conditions will affect Bulger’s health.

“If we are America, we’re supposed to be a country of justice,” Sunday said.

“A lot of people figure whatever they’re doing to him, well, he’s got it coming. But if you want justice, you have to give justice,” he said.

“You don’t lock him up in a solitary condition and give him cold food, nobody to talk to.”

Officials at the Plymouth prison have been “very professional” and responsive to

Bulger during his pretrial detainment, Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., told The Boston Globe, which first reported Bulger’s latest trip to the hospital. Carney did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

“I am confident at this time that my client will be mentally and physically ready to begin trial on June 6,” Carney told the newspaper.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. )


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