The Chicago Syndicate: Whitey Bulger Killed after Inmates were Leaked Details of his Prison Relocation

Montana West World

Montana West World

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Whitey Bulger Killed after Inmates were Leaked Details of his Prison Relocation

Inmates at a West Virginia federal prison knew well in advance that convicted Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was being transferred there and placed bets on how long it would be before the notorious FBI informant was killed, the Justice Department’s inspector general wrote in a withering report.

Bulger, 89 and in failing health, was bludgeoned to death with a padlock less than 12 hours after arriving at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in October 2018, the violent capstone to his own murderous career and to what the watchdog’s report described as a series of management failures, flawed policies and bureaucratic ineptitude.

Federal Bureau of Prisons officials moved Bulger from a facility in Florida where he had lived for years following his 2013 conviction on a sprawling racketeering indictment that included involvement in 11 murders, as well as running a criminal enterprise of drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and gun running from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Prisons officials had been pushing for months to move the wheelchair-using Bulger from a secure unit at U.S. Penitentiary Coleman II due to what they described as safety and discipline concerns.

“In our view, no BOP inmate’s transfer, whether they are a notorious gangster or a nonviolent offender, should be handled like Bulger’s transfer was handled in this instance,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote.

At least 100 prison employees were aware of the coming transfer and some of them spoke openly about it in the presence of inmates, at least one of whom predicted in an email to his mother that the crime boss would be killed because of his notoriety as a government informant.

Three men—Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 55 years old, Paul J. DeCologero, 48, and Sean McKinnon, 36—were indicted in August, nearly four years after the killing, on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Prosecutors alleged Geas and DeCologero struck Bulger in the head multiple times, causing his death. All three have pleaded not guilty.

The killing added to a list of troubles facing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which in recent years has struggled with misconduct, staffing shortages and the coronavirus pandemic, among other problems. Attorney General Merrick Garland in July named Colette Peters, a former top corrections official in Oregon, to lead the beleaguered agency.

In a response Wednesday, Ms. Peters said the agency agreed with the report and had already begun implementing many of its recommendations.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has “initiated several improvements to its medical transfer system including enhanced communication between employees involved in the process, multiple trainings for personnel, and technological advancements,” the agency said in a statement.

Mr. Horowitz’s investigation didn’t find evidence of any federal criminal violations or that employees acted “with a malicious intent or an improper purpose.” But it referred at least six employees for possible discipline.

Prisons officials had sought Bulger’s transfer from Florida after he threatened a nurse there. To hasten the move, the inspector general’s report said, staff repeatedly tried to play down his medical troubles to broaden the list of facilities where he could be placed.

The staff ultimately ignored guidance from health officials who said Bulger should remain in a facility where he could receive greater care and failed to mention Bulger’s numerous heart-health incidents when making the final transfer request, which the agency’s medical director approved.

Officials also neglected to subject Bulger to an intelligence assessment that would have determined if he should be separated from certain organized-crime figures within the prison, despite his well-documented leadership of South Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. Instead, employees at Hazelton told the inspector general they viewed Bulger as “non-gang affiliated,” and a manager volunteered to take Bulger into his unit despite the presence of at least one other former organized crime associate in that portion of the prison.

Geas, who is already serving a life sentence for the 2003 killing of the leader of the Genovese crime family, has a known disdain for Federal Bureau of Investigation informants and was sent to solitary confinement after the killing, law-enforcement officials told the Journal shortly after Bulger was killed. Officials have described him as a Mafia hit man.

Bulger’s violent demise added a new layer of intrigue to his long life of crime and complicated relationship with the federal government. Prosecutors said Bulger acted as a secret FBI informant and fled Boston in late 1994 after being tipped off about the pending indictment against him by his former FBI handler.

Bulger was on the lam for 16 years before his 2011 arrest, when he and his girlfriend were found living under fake names in a rent-controlled Santa Monica, Calif., apartment with $822,000 hidden in the walls.

Thanks to Sadie Gurman.


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