Prosecutors announced on Thursday that three men have been charged in connection with the death of notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, who was found beaten to death in a federal prison in West Virginia in 2014. At the time of his death, Bulger was serving a sentence for crimes that terrorised Boston in the 1970s and 1980s. The indictments were handed down.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia has filed charges against Fotios Geas, Paul J. DeCologero, and Sean McKinnon, accusing them of participating in a plot to commit first-degree murder.
In the Hazelton prison in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, where Mr. Bulger was serving two life sentences for his role in 11 murders committed when he controlled Boston’s underworld for several decades, all three men were incarcerated with Mr. Bulger. Mr. Bulger was 89 years old at the time of his conviction.
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Bulger’s death as well as his transfer to the correctional facility in West Virginia have remained something of a mystery. In addition, they have brought up concerns over the safety of high-profile offenders such as Mr. Bulger, who was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for a total of 12 years and was a well-known informant for the organisation throughout that time.
After the deadly assault, the authorities at the prison swiftly recognised Mr. Geas as one of the suspects in the death of Mr. Bulger, and all three of the inmates were placed in solitary confinement as a result. However, there are still unanswered issues about the almost four-year delay that occurred before the guys were indicted.
Both Mr. Geas, 55, also known as “Freddy,” and Mr. DeCologero, 48, also known as “Pauly,” have been charged with aiding and abetting a first-degree murder, in addition to assault resulting in severe bodily harm. Mr. Geas is also charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. An further accusation of murder by a federal offender who is serving a life sentence has been brought against Mr. Geas.
Mr. McKinnon, age 36, was already facing a charge of providing false statements to a federal agent when he was indicted and detained in Florida on Thursday. At the time of his arrest, Mr. McKinnon was already on federal supervised release. Currently, he is being imprisoned at the Marion County Jail in Ocala, which is located in the state of Florida.
Mr. Geas, who is from West Springfield, Massachusetts, is still incarcerated at the Hazelton correctional facility. He is there to serve a life term for the murder of the head of the Genovese crime family in Springfield in 2003. According to federal prosecutors, Mr. DeCologero is still still being held under the jurisdiction of the federal prison system, although at a separate facility.
When Mr. Bulger was being held at the Hazelton correctional facility, he was confined in the same unit as Mr. Geas, who shared his cell with Mr. McKinnon, who was originally from Montpelier, Vermont. Initially, Mr. Bulger was confined to a cell alongside Mr. DeCologero. However, Mr. Bulger was shortly moved to a different location.
According to the documents, Mr. Geas, Mr. DeCologero, Mr. McKinnon, and Mr. Bulger’s cellmate Felix Wilson were all placed in solitary confinement later that day, after Mr. Bulger had been murdered.
When Mr. Bulger was finally apprehended in Santa Monica, California, in 2011, he had been on the run for the previous 16 years, during which time he was suspected of having a part in the deaths of 19 individuals. Mr. Bulger, who had been serving as an F.B.I. informant, vanished in 1995 after a retired F.B.I. agent informed him that an indictment was about to be brought against him. Despite the fact that there was a record-breaking $2 million reward for his arrest, he managed to evade authorities the whole time.
After Mr. Bulger was murdered, numerous employees at the correctional facility questioned why his transfer to Hazelton, which held criminals with ties to organised crime, was permitted. They also questioned why the personnel at Hazelton put Mr. Bulger among the general population of inmates.
The lawsuit that was filed by the administrator of Mr. Bulger’s estate in January was dismissed by a federal judge. The lawsuit argued that Mr. Bulger was not adequately protected by the federal Bureau of Prisons when he was transferred to the Hazelton prison, which the lawsuit described as being understaffed and plagued by violence. The lawsuit was dismissed in January.
Some of the 19 persons that Mr. Bulger was accused of having a hand in murdering were members of rival gangs, while others were innocent bystanders caught in violent firefights. Mr. Bulger was charged with 19 counts of participation in murder.