WHITEY BULGER: COLDBLOODED BOSTON GANGSTER KILLER, CAPTURED AFTER 16 YEARS ON THE RUN, 2013 SENTENCED TO LIFE IN USA PRISON FOR 11 MURDERS, EXTORTION + MONEY LAUNDERING, beaten to death Oct. 30, 2018 in a West Virginia prison by inmate related to the Italian mafia
James “Whitey” Bulger
James “Whitey” Bulger, the murderous Boston gangster who benefited from a corrupt relationship with the FBI before spending 16 years as one of America’s most wanted men, died in federal prison. He was 89.
Bulger was found unresponsive Tuesday morning at the U.S. penitentiary in West Virginia where he’d just been transferred, and a medical examiner declared him dead shortly afterward, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Authorities did not immediately release a cause of death but said the FBI was notified and is investigating.
Bulger, the model for Jack Nicholson’s ruthless crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, “The Departed,” led a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets. He also was an FBI informant who ratted on the New England mob, his gang’s main rival, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was a top national priority for the FBI.
Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after his FBI handler, John Connolly Jr., warned him he was about to be indicted. With a $2 million reward on his head, Bulger became one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” criminals, with a place just below Osama bin Laden.
When the extent of his crimes and the FBI’s role in overlooking them became public in the late 1990s, Bulger became a source of embarrassment for the FBI. During the years he was a fugitive, the FBI battled a public perception that it had not tried very hard to find him.
After more than 16 years on the run, Bulger was captured at age 81 in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.
In 2013, he was convicted in the slayings, as well as extortion, and money-laundering after a sensational racketeering trial that included graphic testimony from three former Bulger cohorts: a hit man, a protege and a partner. He was sentenced nearly five years ago to two consecutive life sentences plus five years.
Bulger had just been moved to USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. He had been in a prison in Florida before a stopover at a transfer facility in Oklahoma City. Federal Bureau of Prisons officials and his attorney had declined to comment on why he was being moved.
Bulger, nicknamed “Whitey” for his bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project and became known as one of the most ruthless gangsters in Boston. His younger brother, William Bulger, became one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts, leading the state Senate for 17 years.
In working-class “Southie,” Jim Bulger was known for helping old ladies across the street and giving turkey dinners to his neighbors at Thanksgiving. He had a kind of Robin Hood-like image among some locals, but authorities said he would put a bullet in the brain of anyone who he even suspected of double-crossing him.
“You could go back in the annals of criminal history and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as diabolical as Bulger,” said Tom Duffy, a retired state police major who investigated Bulger.
“Killing people was his first option. They don’t get any colder than him,” Duffy said after Bulger was finally captured in June 2011.
Bulger was accused of strangling Debra Davis, the 26-year-old girlfriend of his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, and Deborah Hussey, also 26, the daughter of Flemmi’s common-law wife. In both cases, Bulger insisted on pulling out the women’s teeth so they would be difficult to identify, Flemmi testified.
During a search of his Santa Monica apartment, agents found over $800,000 in cash and more than 30 guns, many hidden in holes in the walls. A property manager at the building said Bulger and Greig, who used the names Charles and Carol Gasko, had lived there for 15 years and always paid the rent-controlled rate of $1,145 a month in cash.
They were caught days after the FBI began a new publicity campaign focusing on Greig. The daytime TV announcements showed photos of Greig and noted that she was known to frequent beauty salons and have her teeth cleaned once a month.
A woman from Iceland who knew Bulger and Greig in Santa Monica saw a report on CNN about the latest publicity campaign and called in the tip that led agents to them. The Boston Globe identified the tipster as a former Miss Iceland, a former actress who starred in Noxzema shaving cream commercials in the 1970s.
Bulger, a physical fitness buff, had been taken to a Boston hospital from his jail cell at least three times, complaining of chest pains, since being brought back to Boston to stand trial.
BACKGROUND: Whitey Bulger was a fixture on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list — and for good reason
At one point Bulger was No. 2 on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list — behind only 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
His nickname was “Whitey,” and for law enforcement, mobster and murderer James Bulger was their great white whale — an elusive foe they hunted relentlessly for years.
The notorious South Boston crime lord was a fixture on the FBI’s 10 “Most Wanted” list after he vanished in 1994, shortly before he was due to be arrested for his alleged role in 19 murders. The hunt for him spanned the country and around the globe, with investigators reportedly chasing down leads in 19 countries.
They finally caught up to him in 2011 in Santa Monica, California, where it turned out he’d been living for years under an assumed name in a modest rent-controlled apartment. The hot-tempered Bulger cursed out agents and officers who arrested him. Inside the $1,145-a-month apartment, they found a cache of more than 30 guns and $800,000 in cash.
Bulger, 89, was killed Tuesday at a federal prison in West Virginia, where he was serving a life sentence for a litany of crimes including multiple murders and racketeering.
Tom Duffy, a retired state police detective who searched for Bulger, called word of his death “celebratory news.”
“You could go back in the annals of criminal history and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as diabolical as Bulger,” he said. Duffy was an adviser on the 2006 Martin Scorsese film “The Departed,” and Bulger was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s “Frank Costello” character.
Growing up in rough and tumble South Boston — his father was a one-armed longshoreman — Bulger was first arrested at age 13 for delinquency. He joined a local gang and other arrests followed, including for assault and robbery.
But after a 4-year stint in the Air Force ending with an honorable discharge in 1952, his crimes got bigger and bolder — he was busted for armed robbery in 1956 and wound up doing time in Alcatraz.
To get time shaved off of his 20-year sentence, he volunteered for a secret government program studying the effects of LSD on people. He said the CIA program, called MK-ULTRA, left him permanently scarred.
Writing in a notebook about the experiments years later, he blamed the drug for giving him “nightly nightmares” and years of “stomach problems,” WBZ-TV reported.
Nicknamed “Whitey” because of his blonde hair, Bulger returned in 1965 to South Boston, where his brother Billy was a state senator. Bulger eventually joined the violent Winter Hill Gang, and muscled his way up the ranks by helping to take out the gang’s rivals.
By 1975, Bulger had been involved with seven slayings, and was eventually recruited to become an informant for the FBI. But the arrangement worked better for Bulger than the feds — he bribed his handler and allegedly used information from him to take out another informant.
Bulger would give the agent, John Connolly, information about his rivals while Connolly would tip him off to investigations and other informants.
By 1979, Bulger had taken control of the Winter Hill Gang — and his connections to law enforcement helped him run a thriving loan-sharking, gun-running and drug-dealing operation. Rivals were killed or forced out of town — but Bulger also garnered a reputation as a local hero for helping to fix up the neighborhood and delivering turkeys to poor families at Thanksgiving.
His luck got even better in 1991, when he “won” the Massachusetts “Mass Millions” lottery. The ticket had been purchased in a store Bulger had owned, and the winner said Bulger and two of his pals were sharing in the $14 million jackpot.
By 1994, it was clear that the FBI was compromised when it came to Bulger, leading the DEA and the state police to start their own probe. The then-retired FBI agent Connolly, however, found out that Bulger had been indicted and tipped him off — letting Bulger skip out of town before he could be arrested.
Bulger — who’d left safety deposit boxes of cash peppered around the country — met up with girlfriend Catherine Greig, and used fake identities wherever they went.
A $2 million reward was offered for his arrest, and as the search dragged on for years, he rose to No. 2 on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list — behind only 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Investigators’ big break came after a former neighbor who’d moved to Iceland saw a report on the search for Bulger and Greig on TV, and recognized them as the couple that would help her tend to an abandoned cat in the area, the Boston Globe reported. “A cat got me captured,” Bulger later groused.
He was was convicted in 2013 for his role in 11 murders, as well as extortion, and money-laundering. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
His brother Billy, who’d been head of the Massachusetts state senate for 17 years, never attended the trial.
Grieg, 67, is at the low-level Federal Correctional Institution, Waseca, in Minnesota after she was convicted for helping Bulger stay on the run for so many years.
She’s scheduled to be released on Sept. 29, 2020, according to Bureau of Prison records.
and more BACKGROUND: Mafia Hit Man Suspected in Whitey Bulger’s Slaying: Official
Fotios “Freddy” Geas
A Mafia hit man who is said to hate “rats” is under suspicion in the slaying of former Boston crime boss and longtime FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger, who was found dead just hours after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison, a former investigator briefed on the matter said Wednesday.
The official said that Fotios “Freddy” Geas and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in Bulger’s killing. The longtime investigator was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Authorities have not disclosed the cause of death for the 89-year-old Bulger. He was found dead Tuesday.
Geas, 51, and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 killing of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a Genovese crime family boss who was gunned down in a Springfield, Massachusetts, parking lot.
Dan Kelly, the Springfield attorney for Geas, spoke to NBC10 Boston after hearing the reports that his client was a suspect in the slaying. He said he had spoken to Geas a week earlier about the weather and sports but has not since heard from him or federal investigators about the killing of Bulger.
“He is in there for murder so I wasn’t completely surprised that he would be alleged to be involved in another murder, but I don’t have any first-hand knowledge that he was involved,” he said.
Kelly said Geas had spoken to him about Bulger in the past, but would not elaborate on the conversation.
“Just that he knew who Whitey Bulger was and his reputation for being an informant,” Kelly said.
His hatred for informants is why former western Massachusetts investigative reporter, now radio host, Jim Polito said he is not surprised to learn Geas may be connected. Polito covered Springfield’s underworld extensively and speculated about the motive, noting Geas is only behind bars after his friends gave him up to the feds.
“He killed for someone who became a rat and ultimately landed him in jail for the rest of his life,” Polito said. “He hates rats and Whitey is the king of all rats. Freddy would want to kill him.”
Private investigator Ted McDonough, who knew Geas, told The Boston Globe: “Freddy hated rats”.
“Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It’s probably that simple,” McDonough told the newspaper, which first reported that Geas was under suspicion.
An FBI spokeswoman in Pittsburgh declined to comment on Geas. Federal officials said only that they are investigating the death as a homicide.
Bulger led South Boston’s Irish mob for decades and became an FBI informant who supplied information on the New England Mafia, his gang’s main rival, in an era when bringing down the Italian mob was a top national priority for the bureau.
Tipped off that he was about to be indicted, Bulger became a fugitive and eluded authorities for nearly two decades before being captured in 2011. He was convicted in 2013 in 11 underworld slayings and a host of other crimes and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
He had just arrived Monday at USP Hazelton, a high-security prison in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. He had previously been in a prison in Florida, with a stopover at a transfer facility in Oklahoma City. Federal Bureau of Prisons officials and his attorney declined to comment on why he was being moved.
Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., blamed his death on prison officials, saying Bulger “was sentenced to life in prison, but as a result of decisions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that sentence has been changed to the death penalty.”
Bureau of Prison officials had no comment on Carney’s remarks.
The Geas brothers were not made members of the Mafia because they were Greek, not Italian. But they were close associates of the mob and acted as enforcers.
While the killing of Bulger is being investigated, Kelly, a former prosecutor, says he’s not surprised by the death.
“I think it’s a relief the long saga of his criminal life is over,” Kelly said Wednesday.
Kelly worked on Bulger’s case for the U.S. Attorney’s office in the 1990s.
“It was good when he was caught and it was even better when he was convicted,” Kelly said. “His death is what it is. He was a violent man and he met a violent end.”
and more BACKGROUND: Violent past of Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas accused of killing Whitey Bulger
- Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas, 51, is suspected of instigating the killing of Whitey Bulger
- Geas is a former mob hitman serving a life sentence for two murders in 2003
- He and brother Ty killed Gary Westerman by shooting him twice in the head then finishing him off with shovels when the bullets failed to kill him
- Geas also hired a hitman to kill Adolfo Bruno on behalf of another Mafia boss
The former hitman accused of beating Whitey Bulger to death in prison had a reputation for extreme violence as he rose through the Mafia’s ranks in the 2000s.
Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas, 51, was serving a life sentence for the murders of Gary Westerman and Adolfo ‘Big Al’ Bruno when he allegedly helped beat Bulger to death with a lock in a sock and partially gouged out his eyes with a shiv on Tuesday.
Those who knew Geas described him as a feared killer around his hometown of Western Springfield, Massachusetts, who was prone to outbursts of violence and operated alongside his younger brother, Ty.
Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas, now 51 (pictured left and right in the late 2000s), is the former mob muscle-man suspected of beating Whitey Bulger to death in prison on Tuesday
Geas (far right) and brother Ty (center) worked as muscle for Mafia boss Anthony Arillotta (second left), carrying out beatings and killings at his behest
Being Greek, the pair grew up outside of Mafia circles but quickly became associated with organised crime following their first convictions.
Those came in 1989 when, aged just 17, Ty Geas fired a rifle into the air during a brawl at a high school hockey game and was sent to jail, Mass Live reports.
Freddy, then aged 22, exhibited what would become a lifelong hatred of ‘rats’ when he threatened to murder a witness against his brother, and was also jailed.
While inside, Ty met and befriended Anthony Arillotta, and up-and-coming Mafia figure who recruited the brothers as ‘muscle’.
Over the course of the next two decades the brothers went to work for Arillotta, racking up a total of 75 convictions between them by the late 2000s, including beatings, vandalism, and robbery.
They were never inducted into the Mafia themselves, because all ‘made’ men must have Italian blood, but were known as Arillotta’s close associates.
Indeed, the brothers helped the aspiring Arillotta ascend through the ranks of the Mafia by whacking his enemies and rivals within it.
On the night of November 4, 2003, the pair murdered Arillotta brother-in-law, their former friend and low-level criminal Gary D Westerman because they correctly suspected he was a ‘rat’.
They carried out the murder by luring Westerman to what he believed was a marijuana stash-house with the promise they were going to rob it.
In 2003 Geas murdered Gary D Westerman (left), Arillotta’s brother-in-law, by shooting him in the head and beating him with shovels. A few weeks later he ordered a hitman to take out Adolfo ‘Big Al’ Bruno (right), who was shot repeatedly in the head and groin
Westerman showed up with a ski mask and a stun gun ready for the raid, but was instead shot twice in the head by the Geas brothers.
The pair then attempted to drag his body to a freshly-dug grave in the back yard, but Westerman somehow survived the bullet wounds and broke free.
Not to be deterred, the murder team – which included Arillotta and another associate, Emilio Fusco – beat him to death with shovels and buried him.
Just a few weeks later Freddy Geas was told to whack Adolfo ‘Big Al’ Bruno, Arillotta’s boss, who he wanted out of the way because he was not making enough money, and out of suspicion that he was also an informant.
After getting permission for the murder from high-ranking mob boss Arthur Nigro, the task was passed to Geas.
Geas and his brother were offered the chance of a reduced sentence in return for informing on mob boss Arthur ‘Artie’ Nigro (pictured), but flatly refused
Rather than carry out the killing himself, Geas paid hitman Frank Roche $10,000 to take out Bruno.
On November 23, Roche walked up to Bruno as he was leaving the Our Lady of Mount Carmel club in Springfield and called out his name.
When Bruno turned, Roche shot him six times in the head and groin, killing him.
Geas also acted as the getaway driver in the attempted murder of Bronx union boss Frank Dabado, who was shot nine times in the same year, but survived.
Nigro had ordered that Dabado be killed after the pair got into a fight over some Tony Bennett concert tickets.
However, the criminal enterprise fell apart when both Roche and Arillotta turned informant in order to bring down the Geas brothers and Nigro.
Prosecutors did attempt to flip Freddy Geas, but according to his defense lawyer Daniel D. Kelly, he simply refused.
‘He didn’t even blink an eye. He didn’t flinch. He just said no,’ Kelly said.
The trio were put on trial and in 2011 were each given life sentences for their parts in the murders of Westerman and Bruno, as well as a host of other charges including racketeering.
On Monday, three inmates at US Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia dragged a wheelchair-bound Bulger into a corner and killed him.
According to reports, the men attempted to gouge his eyes out with a shiv and beat him over the head with a lock in a sock.
Geas is suspected of instigating the death of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (pictured in 2011) in prison on Tuesday. The former gang boss was beaten to death with a lock inside a sock
Bulger ran the infamous Winter Hill Gang in south Boston between the 1970s and the 1990s (pictured here in mugshots from the 1980s)
Geas’s name quickly emerged as a potential killer, and according to the Boston Globe he has not denied his role.
He has also refused to help prison officials identify his co-conspirators.
Among potential suspects are Paul Weadick, 63, was sent to Hazelton this summer after his murder conviction alongside Francis ‘Cadillac Frank’ Salemme – Bulger’s co-defendant in a sweeping federal racketeering indictment in 1999.
Salamme and Weadick were convicted in June of the 1993 murder of Steven DiSarro, a nightclub owner in South Boston.
Bulger’s right-hand man, Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi, was the star witness in the prosecution of Salamme and Weadick – though Flemmi also testified against Bulger himself in 2013.
Bulger was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives for 16 years until his 2011 arrest in Santa Monica, California.
His 2013 trial, which featured 72 witnesses and 840 exhibits, produced chilling testimony worthy of a pulp novel.
It heard harrowing tales of teeth being pulled from the mouths of murder victims to foil identification and the strangulation of a mobster’s girlfriend who ‘knew too much.’
The Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement Tuesday: ‘Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. Mr. Bulger was subsequently pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner.’
The BOP said that no other staff or inmates were injured and that an investigation was underway.
In a statement, Bulger’s lawyer J.W. Carney Jr blasted the prison system over the mobster’s death.
‘He was sentenced to life in prison, but as a result of decisions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that sentence has been changed to the death penalty,’ he said.
Comments are closed.