Three men, including a mob hitman, have been charged in the 2018 killing of notorious Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Ulger’s death raised questions as to why the well-known “snitch” was being housed in the general population of the West Virginia prison rather than in more protective housing.
The men – Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 55, Paul J. DeCologero, 48, and Sean McKinnon, 36 – were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that Geas and DeCologero punched Bulger in the head multiple times, causing his death. McKinnon is separately accused of making false statements to a federal agent.
Bulger, who ran the largely Irish mob in Boston in the 1970s and 1980s, served as the FBI informant who ratted on his gang’s main competitor, according to the FBI. He later became one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives. Bulger emphatically denied ever having been a government informant.
Authorities have not released a possible motive for Bulger’s murder, which came hours after he was transferred from a Florida prison to USP Hazelton in West Virginia. He had served a life sentence for 11 murders and other crimes.
Geas and DeCologero are also facing charges of aiding and abetting first-degree murder and assault with aggravated assault in federal court in West Virginia. Geas faces a separate murder charge by a federal inmate who is serving a life sentence.
“In true irony, Bulger’s family has endured the excruciating pain and trauma that their relative has inflicted on far too many, and the justice system is now coming to their rescue,” said Rachael Rollins, a US Attorney from Massachusetts, in an emailed Mail sent statement.
Geas, who authorities say was a mafia hitman, remains in prison in Hazelton. DeCologero is being held at another federal prison facility. McKinnon was released from prison last month after pleading guilty to stealing guns from a gun dealer in 2015. He was on state-controlled release at the time the charges were filed and was arrested in Florida on Thursday.
According to police officers at the time, Geas and DeCologero were identified as suspects shortly after Bulger’s death, but they remained uncharged as the investigation dragged on for years.
Bulger’s family is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons and 30 unnamed prison system employees over his death, claiming the mobster was “sent to his death on purpose.” A federal judge dismissed the family’s lawsuit in January.
Hank Brennan, who represented Bulger and his family, accused the Justice Department of waiting to bring charges until the family’s lawsuit was dismissed in order to avoid exposing the criminal case to information that would be used in the family’s civil case against the government could become.
“They just protect themselves like they always have,” Brennan said. “There could not have been an ongoing investigation that has taken this long.”
The three men were placed in solitary confinement during the inquest, family members told The Boston Globe. McKinnon’s mother told the newspaper that her son, who was Geas’ cellmate at the time of Bulger’s murder, told her he knew nothing about the murder.
Daniel Kelly, a lawyer for Geas, said Thursday the charges came as no surprise but did not justify his client’s continued confinement in solitary confinement. It wasn’t immediately clear if McKinnon and DeCologero had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
DeCologero was part of an organized crime gang led by his uncle on the north coast of Massachusetts called the “DeCologero Crew”.
He was convicted of buying heroin used to attempt to kill a young girl his uncle wanted dead, fearing she would betray the crew to the police. The heroin didn’t kill her, so another man broke her neck, dismembered her, and buried her remains in the woods, court records say.
Geas was a close associate of the Mafia and acted as an enforcer, but was not an officially “created” member because he is Greek and not Italian.
Geas and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 murder of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a Genoese crime family boss in Springfield, Massachusetts. Another mobster ordered Bruno’s killing because he was upset that he had spoken to the FBI, prosecutors said.
Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after his FBI aide, John Connolly Jr., warned him he would soon be charged.
After more than 16 years on the run and with a $2 million bounty on his head, he was arrested at the age of 81 in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living in a beachfront rental with longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig.
His transfer to Hazelton was prompted by disciplinary issues, said a federal law enforcement official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to release details. In February 2018, Bulger threatened an assistant warden at the Florida prison, telling her, “Your day of reckoning is coming.”
A prison workers’ union official told the AP that year that taking Bulger to the troubled federal penitentiary that housed other New England gangsters would amount to a “death penalty.”
But Bulger never admitted to working for the FBI. Court filings released in the civil case brought by his family showed that after arriving in Hazelton, he was questioned by staff about whether there were reasons to keep him away from the general population. An intake screening form signed by Bulger said he answered “no” to the question “Have you assisted law enforcement in any way?”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/three-men-charged-over-prison-killing-of-boston-gangster-whitey-bulger-in-2018-41922322.html Three men have been charged with the 2018 murder of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger