05/18/2024

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James ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s jailhouse killers make plea deal with prosecutors over gangster’s beating death

Fotios Geas, top left inset, Paul J. DeCologero, bottom right inset, and Sean McKinnon, top right inset, have agreed to plead guilty in the death of James "Whitey" Bulger, bottom left inset (Images as follows: Bulger via a U.S. Marshals Service mugshot; Geas photo from Don Treeger/The Republican via AP; DeCologero via Facebook; McKinnon via a Marion County Sheriff's Office [Florida]; prison exterior photo from Federal Bureau of Prisons)

Fotios Geas, top left inset, Paul J. DeCologero, bottom right inset, and Sean McKinnon, top right inset, have agreed to plead guilty in the death of James “Whitey” Bulger, bottom left inset (Images as follows: Bulger via a U.S. Marshals Service mug shot; Geas photo from Don Treeger/The Republican via AP; DeCologero via Facebook; McKinnon via a Marion County Sheriff’s Office [Florida]; prison exterior photo from Federal Bureau of Prisons)

Three prisoners have agreed to plead guilty to the prison beating murder of infamous Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 57, a former mafia hit man, Paul J. DeCologero, 50, a Massachusetts gangster and Sean McKinnon, 38, made deals, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors in the attack death of Bulger, 89, found beaten to death on Oct. 30, 2018, at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, The Associated Press reported.

The court docket contains three documents filed by prosecutors on Monday for unopposed motions for combined change-of-plea and sentencing hearings for the three defendants, but no other information about the hearings was available.

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    Bulger’s story, documented in books and movies, dates back decades. He led the notorious South Boston Winter Hill gang that controlled much of the city in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also an informant for the FBI, which allowed him to repeatedly avoid arrest due to information leaked to him by his FBI handler, John Connolly, in exchange for bribes.

    Connolly tipped Bulger in December 1994 that he was about to be indicted of 18 counts of murder and racketeering, including at least 11 killings. The tip allowed the mobster to flee Massachusetts, and he earned a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. The disappearance prompted one of the most storied searches in American history and exposed FBI corruption involving informants.

    Connolly was indicted in 2002 for racketeering, obstruction of justice, and false statements for his actions informing Bulger about people who were cooperating with law enforcement and convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. While serving that sentence, he was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of John B. Callahan and sentenced to 40 years. In 2021, he was granted a compassionate medical release, the Boston Globe reported.

    In 2011, Bulger was finally caught after a law enforcement media campaign focusing on his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, with images of her pre-fugitive plastic surgeries and details such as her love of animals. After someone spotted her and Bulger, far from his East Coast roots, in Santa Monica, California, authorities moved in to make the arrest, luring him out of his apartment using a ruse and seizing “an arsenal of weapons and over $800,000 in cash hidden inside his apartment walls,” officials said.

    Richard Teahan, a special agent in the FBI’s Boston office who led a task force searching far and wide for Bulger, celebrated the arrest.

    “We believed that locating Greig would lead us to Bulger,” he said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

    Greig pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and served eight years in federal prison.

    Bulger was convicted in a racketeering conspiracy on charges of the murders of 11 people and numerous counts of extortion, money laundering, drug dealing, and possession of firearms. He was sentenced in 2013 to two life terms plus five years and was ordered to pay $25 million in restitution.

    “The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes, is almost unfathomable,” U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper told Bulger then.

    Bulger used a wheelchair and had heart conditions when he was beaten to death in federal custody, less than 12 hours after he had been transferred from U.S. Penitentiary Coleman II in Sumterville, Florida, to USP Hazelton, officials said. Inmates knew Bulger was coming and about his history as an informant, according to a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report investigating the beating.

    “if i[sic] dont [sic] call you tomorrow then we are locked down for probably 30 days cause [sic] we got word whitey [sic] bulger [sic] is coming to the yard tonight..you [sic] remember him as the boig [sic] boston [sic] irish [sic] mobster leader who was just caught afew [sic] years ago..well hes[sic] been a government witness for 20 years aso[sic] yeah you already know…” an inmate wrote to someone he called “mamma” at 8:33 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2018, just before Bulger was escorted into the housing unit at Hazelton.

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    In August 2022, Geas, DeCologero, and McKinnon were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the killing. Geas and DeCologero were accused of striking Bulger repeatedly in the head, with McKinnon serving as a lookout, the indictment said.

     

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