A “crazy month” at the maximum prison in Hazelton, W.Va., where South Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was murdered ended with reports the warden may be fired. But Warden Joe Coakley denied a New York Times report saying he’s being replaced, sending an email to staffers calling the report a rumor.
Justin Tarovisky, executive vice president of the guard union at U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton, told the Herald he was informed of the email and has not been told of the warden’s future. But, Tarovisky added, the prison just ended a lockdown that began just after Bulger’s murder Oct. 30, hours after he arrived at the prison.
“I was not alerted to any firing. But it has been a crazy month up there, and we’re trying to push on,” the union rep said. “Officers have got to go in there every day, and we have to stay safe.”
The warden sent out an email that stated: “I spoke personally with Acting Director Hugh Hurwitz this afternoon. He confirmed there have been no discussions regarding replacing me as Complex Warden. Additionally Bryan Antonelli, FCI Williamsburg Warden, has not be selected as Complex Warden at Hazelton. As I have stated many times, I am honored to be your Warden! I hope this addresses any rumors or concerns.”
Tarovisky said the warden has said he’s trying to hire more guards. He told the Herald last month the prison has 77 vacancies — more than half for guard positions.
“Morale is low at Hazelton,” he added. “We were locked down for a month, and we just came back.
“Inside the prison the inmates are taking it all with a grain of salt,” he added. “We take that kind of violence seriously and we have got to stay on our toes.”
The 89-year-old Bulger was beaten to death with a padlock inside a sock, reportedly by two inmates tied to organized crime in Massachusetts who may have also attempted to gouge out his eyes inside “Misery Mountain,” as inmates call Hazelton.
Bulger, serving life for 11 murders but suspected of many more, was reportedly killed by a Mafia hitman from Springfield named Fotios “Freddy” Geas and a member of a North Shore drug gang.
The second suspect, Paul J. DeCologero, is connected to a notorious Burlington-based crime family that robbed rival drug dealers and once dismembered a teenage girl, according to published reports.
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