What is the real story behind the violent murder of James “Whitey” Bulger? | Mafia

American organized crime has long held a grip on the American popular imagination, sustaining entire industries of Hollywood books, TV shows and movies, as well as countless jaw-dropping tabloid headlines.

But few names have been as famous as South Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, who for decades portrayed himself as a benevolent mobster who protected his community and was treated in Hollywood by Johnny Depp in “Black Mass” and Jack Nicholson in “The Defunct”.

But the truth behind Bulger’s violent death in prison – where he finally languished after years on the run managing to evade law enforcement – has yet to be written and recent revelations have only fueling speculation that some form of conspiracy was behind the mobster’s abrupt disappearance.

Last week a court heard that the notorious Irish-American leader of the Winter Hill gang was beaten to death minutes after his cell door was opened at 6am on October 30, 2018 – less than 12 hours since his transfer to a penitentiary. in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

Prosecutors said the instrument used to end Bulger’s criminal life – which established him as one of the most notorious gang figures of the 20th century and, for a time, second only to Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s “most wanted” list – was a lock attached to a belt.

It took less than five minutes to kill him and his attackers may have tried to gouge out his eyes.

Now, the circumstances of Bulger’s murder raise more questions than there have been answers thus far. It was certainly mob justice that was served for Bulger’s role as a possible FBI informant who had been shielded from prosecution while running a notoriously violent criminal enterprise. But was it simply bureaucratic incompetence that made Bulger so vulnerable to attack or something more sinister?

Bulger, 89, was serving two consecutive life sentences after being convicted of 31 counts, including racketeering charges and involvement in 11 murders in 2013. He was arrested two years earlier in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run following a tip-off from her FBI handler of a pending federal indictment.

Sean McKinnon, who is accused by the government of standing watch during the beating, had told his mother a day earlier that everyone in the prison unit had been alerted that Bulger was about to be beaten. be transferred there.

“You should know the name…Whitey Bulger,” he said on the call. “Oh Jesus,” McKinnon’s mother said. “Stay away from him please.” The 36-year-old inmate said he couldn’t – his cellmate was “a henchman for a New York and Boston mob family”.

One of those accused of beating Bulger to death in his bed, Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 55, was a mob agent serving a life sentence for the 2003 gang killings of the boss of the mafia Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and an associate. A third accused inmate, Paul J “Pauly” DeCologero, 48, was a member of an organized crime group on Boston’s North Shore who robbed rival drug dealers and killed a teenage girl they believed might abandon them .

“It all comes back to an element of corruption, using him as an informant and shielding him so he can commit crimes,” said Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe columnist and co-author of a best-selling biography of Bulger. “It makes no sense for the Bureau of Prisons to put him within striking distance of people like Freddy Geas or Pauly DeCologero.”

“Any guy in organized crime or the mafia would have a beef with Whitey because he was a rat,” Cullen said. “But there are a number of prisons where there are no Boston-area gangsters. It was like, ‘Whitey is coming and we’re going to kill him.’ »

Bulger had previously been held in units designated for inmates, such as informants or pedophiles, who needed protection from other inmates. He was known to be a tough prisoner and Cullen speculated that the Florida prison where he was held just wanted him off their books.

The Bulger family said they held the Bureau of Prisons responsible. A wrongful death lawsuit, which described Bulger as “perhaps the most infamous and notorious inmate” of federal prison since Al Capone, claimed that Bulger was “deliberately sent to his death” in a so-called prison ” Misery Mountain”.

But the action was dismissed in January. U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey said in his ruling that the Bureau of Prisons “must provide for the protection, custody, and care of inmates, but that does not guarantee a risk-free environment.”

Hank Brennan, Bulger’s attorney, told the Boston Globe that “the mechanism used to murder him was really irrelevant. It is the people who allowed this to happen who are most in need of accountability.”

But some family members of Bulger’s victims said they were upset that anyone had even been charged in connection with Bulger’s death. Steve Davis, brother of Debra Davis, who was allegedly strangled to death by Bulger and an associate in 1981, told the Globe that given the opportunity he would kiss Geas’s hand “like he was the godfather”.

In a statement last week, U.S. attorney Rachael Rollins, who won Bulger’s conviction in 2013, welcomed the indictments against the three men. “In the truest of ironies, Bulger’s family has experienced the excruciating pain and trauma their parent inflicted on far too many people, and the justice system is now coming to their aid,” Rollins said.

The problem with that, Cullen points out, is that the very system that seeks to hold Bulger’s alleged killers accountable is the same one that has allowed Bulger to extort, intimidate and murder during two decades of gang rule since. that he became an FBI informant in 1975.

“Whitey was able to thrive as a gang leader because the FBI tipped him off to potential witnesses. He killed people the FBI told him they could turn him in. So the government got their hands on all this shit. They decided who would live or die. It’s a horrible, corrupt system and it still is today. They still do business with informants all the time,” Cullen said.

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