Four Years Later, Feds Finally Indict Three Suspects In Whitey Bulger Murder

Three men were indicted today in the grizzly murder of James (Whitey) Bulger, the 89-year-old Boston-based gangster snitch who was beaten to death in 2018 in a West Virginia Federal prison where he was serving two life terms for his role in 11 murders committed during his decades-long reign atop Boston’s underworld.

James (Whitey) Bulger
Bulger bit the dust about 11 hours after his arrival at Hazelton prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia charged former Springfield, Mass.-based Genovese family associate Fotios (Freddy) Geas, 55; Paul J. (Pauly) DeCologero, 48, a member of a violent Patriarca family crew in Boston; and Sean McKinnon, 36, with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

The three men—who were identified as suspects in the murder from the get-go—were incarcerated with Bulger in Hazelton.

Geas and DeCologero were also charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder and assault that resulted in serious bodily injury. Geas faces an additional charge for murder by a Federal inmate serving a life sentence. McKinnon, who was on Federal supervised release when he was indicted and arrested in Florida today, faces a separate charge for making false statements to a Federal agent.

Geas remains at the Hazelton prison, serving a life sentence for the 2003 killing of the leader of the Genovese crime family in Springfield. 

DeCologero remains in the federal prison system, in a different location, according to federal prosecutors.

It took about four years for us to get here, despite the fact that Geas supposedly confessed to the murder within a day —and had been caught, with DeCologero, on surveillance footage entering Bulger’s cell about two-and-a-half hours before his body was found, at around 6 a.m. on October 30, 2018.

Fotios (Freddy) Geas,
Fotios (Freddy) Geas, former Springfield Crew associate serving life for mob murders.

After Bulger's arrival at Hazelton from USP Coleman 2 (due to direct serious threats he made against a staff member), the onetime boss of the Winterhill Gang had less than 11 hours to live. He was placed in his cell at 9:53 p.m. His head would be bashed in with a padlock stuffed in a sock in an attack so brutal, his eyes allegedly appeared to be gouged out and his tongue sliced off. DeCologero and Geas were in Bulger's housing unit and had gone to the dining hall for breakfast after morning lockdown following the evening Bulger arrived.

From the beginning, law enforcement officials “with knowledge of the matter” specifically named DeCologero and Geas as participants in the attack.

Both were put in solitary confinement with the third suspect, McKinnon, who is from Vermont and reportedly has no known mob ties. He had been locked up at Hazelton since 2016.

Prior to the murder, McKinnon shared a cell with Geas, who is serving a life sentence for murder. He, his brother Ty, and former Bronx-based Genovese boss Arthur (Artie) Nigro were tried and convicted for the 2003 gangland killing of Adolfo (Big Al) Bruno, who had been the boss of the Genovese crime family’s Springfield crew. 

DeCologero was a member of a violent New England Mafia-affiliated crew run by his uncle. Paul had ben serving a 25-year sentence for racketeering and conspiracy, and his family was eagerly anticipating his slated release date. Then Bulger was killed.

Bulger is alleged to have threatened Paul's uncle and other members of the DeCologero family, according to Paul's brother.

In November 2018, the Boston Globe noted that while DeCologero had never crossed paths with Bulger before the latter's arrival at the West Virginia prison, "there was bad blood between their families," DeCologero’s brother confirmed. In a telephone interview, Paul's brother, Derek Munro, said that his uncle, Paul A. DeCologero, had called him from the Kentucky prison where he is serving a life sentence for murder and "claimed that Bulger had once put contracts on members of the DeCologero family."

“Whitey and my brother never personally interacted, but my uncle said there’s an issue, that at one point Bulger had a contract” on the uncle and his family, Munro said. “It still doesn’t make me think he had a motive to kill him.”

The DeCologero Crew robbed and kidnapped drug dealers and sold drugs, and operated extensively in Boston.

In 1989, the crew reportedly threw in with Boston mobster Robert F. Carrozza, aka "Bobby Russo," who led an internal rebellion against the leadership of the Providence-based Patriarca crime family. Carrozza, his stepbrother (and consiglieri) Joseph (JR) Russo, and Vincent Ferrarra challenged boss Raymond Patriarca and Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme. The civil war lasted until 1996 and claimed more than a dozen lives.

Many news stories describe the DeCologero crew as an independent group because Paul A. (Big Paul) DeCologero, boss of the crew, was acquitted in a big 1997 indictment for war crimes and continued running his crew.

The DeCologero crew was nailed years later for the grizzly 1996 murder of Aislin Silva, 19, the girlfriend of a crew member. She was strangled and dismembered because of concern that she knew enough to provide devastating testimony about the crew's criminal activities.

Gregory Scarpa
Greg Scarpa, Colombo capo/FBI snitch, offers a Brooklyn-Italian version of the Bulger story.

Bulger was a notorious South Boston mobster who was the inspiration for books and films, including two major Hollywood productions, The Departed and Black Mass. His story has drawn intense fascination for decades. Bulger was ruthless and charismatic in a John Gotti kind of way -- but also duplicitous and remorseless in a Gregory Scarpa kinda way....

The long-time Colombo capo, who was known as the Grim Reaper, offers a Brooklyn-Italian version of the Bulger story. Like Scarpa, Bulger had intimate knowledge of local Mafia operations. Like Scarpa knew the five families, Bulger knew the Patriarcas. Each would talk or say anything to stay out of prison. Rivals who they couldn't simply kill, they'd rat out and let the FBI remove.

During his crime spree, Whitey allegedly murdered 19, including a 26-year-old girlfriend of Bulger's longtime partner, Stephen (The Rifleman) Flemmi. (Bulger and Flemmi allegedly killed two women.)

Bulger's Boston years ended in the mid-1990s when a joint taskforce, operating independently of the FBI, targeted him.

Bulger still eluded arrest until 2011.

Bulger inspired long-lasting revulsion on both sides of the law -- and was one of the most high-profile federal prisoners in the system with no shortage of enemies, in and out of prison.

Prison staffers—current and former—have questioned why an elderly, marked man would be placed in general population in a prison that had staffing issues and a problem associated with violence.

“He ratted out a lot of people,” said one prison staffer. “You cannot put that person in, not just Hazelton, but any open yard. It’s a death sentence.”

Bulger never admitted to being an informant.

USP Coleman 2 penitentiary (the penitentiary where Bulger was prior to the transfer) is a “so-called special-needs prison” for marked men like Bulger, according to former inmate Nathaniel Lindell, who noted this in a 2016 story about time he'd spent in prison with Bulger.

Paul J. (Pauly) DeCologero
DeCologero was a member of a New England Mafia-affiliated crew run by his uncle.

Coleman, he wrote, was a “safe” facility “where informants, former cops, ex-gang members, check-ins (prisoners who intentionally put themselves in solitary confinement to be safe), and sex offenders can all, supposedly, walk the Yard freely. At regular BOP lockups, these types of men are in danger of being beaten, stabbed, or strangled to death.”

At Coleman, Bulger reportedly paid off a couple of younger inmates to bring him his meals and protect him.

The FBI and the The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of West Virginia conducted the four-year long investigation into Bulger’s killing.

Following 16 years on the run, Bulger was sentenced to two life terms in 2013 after he was convicted for his role in 11 murders, plus drug dealing, money laundering, and extortion.

Read more of my Whitey Bulger stories: