PRESTON COUNTY, W Va. - James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious Boston gangster and FBI informant who spent 16 years on the run from extortion and racketeering charges, was found dead at a West Virginia prison on Tuesday.
Bulger, 89, was recently transferred to a prison in Oklahoma before being moved to a federal penitentiary in Hazelton, W.V., less than two hours from Pittsburgh.
BREAKING: Notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has been found dead after being transferred to a prison in West Virginia, multiple federal officials tell @NBCNews - @PeteWilliamsNBC https://t.co/kdrUxk2XiK pic.twitter.com/bffv9t3p05— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 30, 2018
A former federal investigator says a Mafia hit man is a suspect in the prison slaying of Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger.
The official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Fotios "Freddy" Geas and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in 89-year-old Bulger's killing Tuesday at a West Virginia prison.
The longtime investigator spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the case.
Geas was convicted in the 2003 killing of western Massachusetts mobster Adolfo Bruno. Bulger was a longtime informant for the FBI who provided information on the Mafia. Geas was known to despise gangsters who ratted each other out.
Attorney David Hoose, who initially represented Geas in the Bruno case, says Geas "did not and would not rat on anyone."
The view of the prison where Bulger died from Chopper 11:
Bulger was found unresponsive inside his cell around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, less than 24 hours after arriving at the prison, according to a release from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. No staff or other inmates were injured, the release said.
Authorities did not immediately release a cause of death but said the FBI was notified and is investigating.
Federal agents captured Bulger in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., along with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.
He was represented by J.W. Carney while on trial, and following Bulger's death Carney released the following statement:
“I was proud to be appointed by the Federal Court to represent James Bulger. He was sentenced to life in prison, but as a result of decisions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that sentence has been changed to the death penalty. I’ll have no further comment."
- Former Boston criminal boss ‘Whitey' Bulger moved to Oklahoma prison
- Supreme Court rejects Whitey Bulger appeal
- Items owned by gangster 'Whitey' Bulger fetch $100K at sale
The feared former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area, was convicted in 2013 of participating in 11 murders stretching from Massachusetts to Florida to Oklahoma and sentenced to life in prison.
While on the run, Bulger spent 12 years on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, second only to Osama bin Laden.
Bulger had just been moved to USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. He had been in a prison in Florida before a stopover at a transfer facility in Oklahoma City. Federal Bureau of Prisons officials and his attorney had declined to comment on why he was being moved.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons released the following statement:
Inmate Death at United States Penitentiary Hazelton
Bruceton Mills, WV: On Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at approximately 8:20 a.m., inmate James Bulger was found unresponsive at the United States Penitentiary (USP) Hazelton, in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. Mr. Bulger was subsequently pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and an investigation has been initiated. No staff or other inmates were injured, and at no time was the public in danger.
Mr. Bulger was an 89 year-old male who was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to a Life sentence for Racketeering Conspiracy, Racketeering, Extortion Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Possession of Unregistered Machine Guns, Transfer and Possession of Machine Guns, Possession of Firearms with Obliterated Serial Numbers, and Possession of Machine Guns in Furtherance of a Violent Crime. He had been in custody at USP Hazelton since October 29, 2018.
USP Hazelton is a high security facility that currently houses 1,270 male offenders at Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Hazelton.
Additional information about the Federal Bureau of Prisons can be found at www.bop.gov.
The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this story.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.