Bulger, accused of 19 deaths and an inspiration for the film "The Departed," was shackled as he entered a courtroom with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who was arrested with him Wednesday in Santa Monica. He laughed when she pointed out there was "a lot of media her to see you," ABC News reported, citing a federal official.
A judge asked Bulger if he understood the charges brought against him in a 200-page indictment. Bulger said he hadn't read the whole thing but he knew what it contained, ABC reported. He was expected to be extradited to Massachusetts to face charges in Boston within about 48 hours, the report said.
A tip from FBI television spots that began airing this week led to Wednesday's arrest of 81-year-old Bulger, ending a 16-year, globe-trotting manhunt, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
Authorities recovered cash and weapons in the Santa Monica apartment Bulger shared with longtime companion Greig, 60, who also was taken into custody, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"Recent publicity produced a tip that led agents to a residence in Santa Monica, Calif., where they located Bulger and Greig Wednesday evening," said a statement released Thursday by Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, and Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office.
Bulger, who was on the bureau's Ten Most Wanted list, and Greig did not resist arrest, the FBI said.
Bulger did not appear to be in good health, an official said.
"I don't think he's in a position to be fighting anybody," the official said, adding, "They got a confession from him."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly, part of the prosecution team that brought the federal charges against Bulger, said Thursday, "It's a long time coming and we're glad he's finally in custody."
Bulger fled just before he was indicted on federal racketeering charges in January 1995. Eventually it was revealed in federal court in Boston he was a longtime FBI informant who was warned by his corrupt handler that he was about to be arrested.
Bulger's brother, William, a former president of the Massachusetts Senate and president of the University of Massachusetts, had no comment when asked about the fugitive's arrest, the Globe reported.
John Weiskopf, 63, who lives across the street from Bulger's apartment, told the Los Angeles Times he used to see Bulger and Greig in the neighborhood.
"I used to see him" and Greig, said Weiskopf, a screenwriter, film producer and novelist. "They've been here a while. I would see them out here walking their dog. They were very unassuming."