The Chicago Syndicate: Paul J. DeCologero
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Showing posts with label Paul J. DeCologero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul J. DeCologero. Show all posts

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.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Whitey Bulger's Last Warden at "Misery Mountain" Denies Reports He is to be Fired

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.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Change in Whitey Bulger's Medical Classification Led to Prison Transfer, #Conspiracy Grows

Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s medical classification was suddenly and inexplicably changed to suggest his health had improved, leading to his transfer to the West Virginia prison where he was murdered last week, US Bureau of Prisons records show.

Two organized crime figures from Massachusetts suspected of killing Bulger have been placed in isolation at the US Penitentiary Hazelton while federal investigators work to build a case against them. But investigators are also trying to figure out why Bulger, a frail 89-year-old who used a wheelchair, was transferred from the US Penitentiary Coleman II in Florida to a prison where he had access to more limited medical care despite his advancing age and declining health.

A Bureau of Prisons official who is familiar with Bulger’s treatment said the Florida prison considered Bulger a nuisance and wanted to transfer him.

“They lowered his care level to get rid of him,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case.

That official said he did not believe the intent was to get Bulger killed. But he acknowledged that sending Bulger to Hazelton and immediately placing him in the general population was negligent and amounted to “a death penalty.”

Sandy Parr, who works at a federal medical facility and is president of a union representing federal prison workers, said the Bureau of Prisons regularly changes medical classifications “even though they shouldn’t” to move troublesome inmates.

Prison records reviewed by the Globe show that prison authorities deemed Bulger’s medical treatment was complete. But, Parr said, “no one with his [medical] history would ever have medical care completed.”

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman on Tuesday declined to answer questions about why Bulger’s medical classification was changed, saying, “We are not releasing any information due to the ongoing investigation.” But beyond Bulger’s classification being changed to allow his transfer to Hazelton, questions remain about why officials at Hazelton allowed Bulger to be placed in the prison’s general population, which included several organized crime figures from Massachusetts who would have been familiar with Bulger and might pose a danger to him.

As the Boston Globe reported last week, two of those figures, Fotios “Freddy” Geas, a Mafia hit man from West Springfield serving life for two gangland murders, and Paul J. DeCologero, who was part of a Mafia-aligned group who murdered and dismembered a 19-year-old Medford woman, are now suspects in Bulger’s murder.

When Bulger was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for 11 murders, he had already suffered several heart attacks and was sent to “medical care Level 3” prisons, first in Arizona, then in Florida, that offered specialized care for “fragile” inmates who require frequent treatment.

In April, Bulger could no longer walk when authorities at the Florida prison sought permission to transfer him to a federal medical center that provided round-the-clock care, according to prison records reviewed by the Globe.

After that request was denied, authorities renewed their request to transfer Bulger in October -- only this time they claimed that his health had dramatically improved, the records show. He was reclassified as a Level 2 inmate with minimal medical needs, making him eligible for his transfer to Hazelton, a Level 2 medical care prison, where he was beaten to death by fellow inmates hours after his arrival.

During his last eight months at the Florida prison, Bulger had been held in the Special Housing Unit, or solitary confinement, after he threatened a prison staffer, records show. The prison official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Bulger told a female nurse, “Your day of reckoning is coming.”

According to the records, Bulger was originally given 30 days in solitary for the infraction in February, but that confinement was extended three more times, stretching out over eight months.

Parr, the union official, said she didn’t understand why Bulger was transferred for making a single threatening remark. “We don’t transfer inmates because of that. It’s common,” she said. “If there was an actual physical assault, we might do something. But for one verbal threat, and eight months in SHU, that doesn’t make sense.”

By his own account in letters sent from prison, Bulger despised being in isolation. Joe Rojas, president of Local 506, which represents prison workers at Coleman, said Bulger didn’t have any problem with fellow inmates while in general population at USP Coleman II.

Rojas said Bulger was assigned to the so-called “dropout unit,” made up of former gang members, informants, and other inmates who might face threats.

Bulger had “his own bodyguards,” Rojas said, and “some of the younger inmates would bring him his lunch and dinner.”

In a 2016 report, the District of Columbia Corrections Information Council found that Hazelton was overcrowded, understaffed, and employed a single physician, “which is not adequate to care for the medical needs of all inmates, especially those who require chronic care.”

The Bureau of Prisons uses a software system called Central Inmate Monitoring to warn prison officials if an inmate might be in danger from another prisoner, information that is crucial when inmates are initially placed or later transferred. In Bulger’s case, he fell under the system’s category of “broad publicity,” which the Bureau of Prisons lists as “inmates who have received widespread publicity as a result of their criminal activity or notoriety as public figures.” Bulger having been publicly identified as an FBI informant also placed him squarely in the CIM system, according to a Bureau of Prisons program statement on CIM.

What remains unclear, because the Bureau of Prisons refuses to comment, is whether CIM system protocols were followed in Bulger’s case. Bulger was found dead in his cell within 14 hours of his arrival at Hazelton on the night of Oct. 29.

Several law enforcement officials say they can’t understand why Bulger wasn’t initially placed in isolation at Hazelton until officials there could determine whether he would be safe in general population. Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., said placing Bulger in the general population in Hazelton amounted to a “death penalty.”

Thanks to Shelley Murphy and Kevin Cullen.


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