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Notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger is arrested

Notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger is arrested


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On June 22, 2011, after 16 years on the run from law enforcement, James “Whitey” Bulger, a violent Boston mob boss wanted for 19 murders, is arrested in Santa Monica, California. The 81-year-old Bulger, one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives, was arrested with his longtime companion, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, who fled Massachusetts with the gangster in late 1994, shortly before he was to be indicted on federal criminal charges. At the time of his 2011 arrest, there was a $2 million reward for information leading to Bulger’s capture, the largest amount ever offered by the agency for a domestic fugitive.

Born in Massachusetts in 1929 and raised in a South Boston housing project, Bulger, who earned his nickname as a child for his light blond hair, served time in federal prison in the 1950s and early 1960s for bank robbery. Afterward, he returned to Boston, where he eventually built an organized-crime empire with partner Stephen Flemmi. At the time the two men were involved with drug trafficking, extortion, murder and other illegal activities, they were serving, since the mid-1970s, as FBI informants, providing information about rival mobsters in return from protection from prosecution.

After a rogue FBI agent tipped off Bulger that he would soon be arrested on racketeering charges, Bulger disappeared in December 1994. (John Connolly, the agent who tipped off Bulger, was later convicted on charges of racketeering, obstruction of justice and second-degree murder.) Despite an international manhunt, Bulger eluded authorities for over a decade and a half. Then, on June 20, 2011, the FBI employed a new tactic by airing a public service announcement focused on Greig, Bulger’s companion. The ad, which aired in cities across the U.S. where the mobster was thought to have once lived or have contacts, was aimed at female viewers who might have seen Greig, who underwent a variety of cosmetic surgeries, at a beauty parlor or doctor’s office. Based on one of the tips they received, FBI agents staked out Bulger and Greig, then going by the names Charles and Carol Gasko, and arrested them without incident at the modest, two-bedroom Southern California apartment building they had long called home.

Law enforcement officials found weapons, fake identification and more than $800,000 stashed in Bulger’s apartment. He later revealed to them that during his years on the lam he had traveled frequently to such places as Boston, Mexico and Las Vegas, armed and sometimes in disguise.

After their arrest, Bulger and Greig were returned to Boston. In June 2012, as part of a plea agreement, Greig was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Bulger remain in hiding. The following summer, Bulger went on trial, and on August 12, 2013, he was convicted in a federal court in Boston of 31 of the 32 counts against him, including participating in 11 murders and other criminal acts.

On November 14, 2013, a federal judge sentenced Bulger to two life terms in prison plus five years. He died while incarcerated on October 30, 2018.

READ MORE: How Whitey Bulger Manipulated the FBI Into Locking Up His Enemies


Whitey Bulger Timeline: A Life Of Crime

The arrest was based on a tip from the recent publicity campaign that federal authorities had regenerated, a law enforcement official told the AP.

— Sept. 3, 1929: James Bulger is born to Irish immigrant parents living in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. He is the second of six children. His shock of platinum blonde hair earns him the nickname “Whitey.”

— 1956: Whitey Bulger is sentenced to federal prison for bank robbery. After he’s suspected of plotting an escape from one prison, he’s transferred to Alcatraz to serve part of his term.

— 1960: Bulger’s younger brother, William, is elected to the state House of Representatives. John Connolly, a childhood friend from South Boston, works on the campaign.

— 1965: Whitey Bulger is released from prison and comes home to “Southie.” He becomes a top lieutenant to Somerville mobster Howie Winter, head of the Winter Hill Gang.

— Mid-1960s: Gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi develops a relationship with Boston FBI agent H. Paul Rico. Flemmi, using the code name “Jack from South Boston” informs on members of the Providence, R.I.-based New England Mafia.

— 1969: Flemmi is indicted for the murder of a mobster, and with childhood friend “Cadillac” Frank Salemme, for a car bombing. Rico tips off Flemmi that the indictments are coming, and the two flee Boston. Flemmi spends the next 4 1/2 years on the lam.

— 1970: William Bulger is elected to the state Senate.

— 1972: John Connolly, now an FBI agent, recognizes Salemme on the street in New York City and arrests him. Salemme is later sentenced to 15 years in prison. The arrest earns Connolly a transfer back to his hometown of Boston.

— 1974: Flemmi returns to Boston after criminal charges are dropped when several key witnesses recant. He hooks up with Winter, who counts Whitey Bulger among his key allies.

— June 1975: Edward Connors is killed by Flemmi to prevent him from telling authorities about an earlier murder by the Winter Hill Gang.

— September 1975: Acting partly on Flemmi’s recommendation, Bulger cuts a deal with Connolly to provide information on the Italian Mafia in exchange for protection from the FBI.

— 1977: Veteran agent John Morris is appointed to oversee Connolly and his underworld informants.

— 1978: William Bulger becomes president of the state Senate and goes on to serve in the post longer than anyone in its history.

— 1979: After a former business associate implicates Whitey Bulger and Flemmi in a horse race-fixing scheme, FBI agents Connolly and Morris persuade federal prosecutors to leave the two out of the indictment. Twenty-one people are charged, including Howie Winter, whose conviction paves the way for Bulger and Flemmi to assume control of the Winter Hill Gang.

— November 1980: Bulger and Flemmi help the FBI plant a surveillance bug in the North End headquarters of Boston Mafia boss Gennaro Angiulo.

— May 1981: Roger Wheeler, the owner of World Jai Alai, a gambling enterprise from which Bulger and Flemmi have been skimming money, is shot between the eyes in the parking lot of his country club in Tulsa, Okla. The killer is Winter Hill Gang hitman John Martorano.

— Spring 1982: Bulger and Flemmi gun down a former henchman in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from telling about the Wheeler murder. Connolly files a report with the FBI saying rival gangsters made the hit.

— July 1982: Flemmi and Bulger order Martorano to kill John Callahan, the former president of World Jai Alai, to prevent him from telling investigators about the Jai Alai scheme.

— January 1995: Bulger disappears on the eve of his indictment on racketeering charges.

— 1997: The FBI, under court order, acknowledges that Bulger and Flemmi were “top echelon” informants as a federal probe into the agency’s corrupt ties to its mob informants begins.

— May 2002: Connolly is convicted of racketeering for warning Bulger, Salemme and Flemmi that they were about to be indicted in January 1995.

— June 2003: William Bulger testifies before a congressional committee investigating the FBI’s ties to mobster informants such as his brother. After receiving immunity, he acknowledged receiving a call from Whitey shortly after he fled, but said he has not heard from him since and has no idea where he is.

— August 2003: William Bulger resigns as president of the University of Massachusetts system amid growing pressure.

— 2005: Federal and state law enforcement officials investigate leads and Bulger look-alikes in at least 19 countries.

— 2006: Authorities release 26-year-old surveillance video of Bulger in the hope that someone will recognize his mannerisms.

— 2007: FBI releases video of a couple that resembles Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Grieg, in Italy.

— 2008: Connolly is convicted of second-degree murder in the hit on Martorano, as prosecutors argue the information he provide the mobsters was critical to the hit.

— 2010: FBI appeals to plastic surgeons in the effort to locate Bulger and Grieg.

— June 20, 2011: FBI announces an effort to target Grieg in the hopes of reaching Bulger.

— June 22, 2011: Bulger arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., with Grieg.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


A Key Figure in the ‘Whitey’ Bulger Case Has Been Released from Prison

John Connolly, the FBI agent and convicted murderer who tipped notorious Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger to a pending federal indictment, has been released from Florida prison on a conditional medical release. Connolly’s tip helped facilitate the 16 years bulger spent on the lam, until he was tracked to an apartment in Santa Monica and arrested in 2011.

Connolly was serving a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder in connection with his relationship to the former Boston mob boss and FBI informant. The duo was part of a murderous reign of terror that inspired two Hollywood movies, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and Black Mass starring Johnny Depp.

The South Boston native, who grew up in the same public housing development as Bulger and his brother, former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, was convicted in 2008 in connection with the killing of gambling executive John Callahan in Fort Lauderdale. Connolly tipped Bulger and another gangster on the FBI payroll, Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi, that Callahan was about to implicate the gang in another killing. Days later, Callahan was shot dead by a Bulger hitman.

Bulger went on the lam in 1994 and for 16 years was behind only Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He was finally captured on June 22, 2011 in Santa Monica, where he was hiding in plain sight in a rent-stabilized apartment at 1012 3rd Street with his longtime lover, Catherine Greig.

Over the years “Charlie and Carol Gasko,” the aliases the couple developed after coercing a homeless man at Palisades Park to hand over his social security number, lived the Westside life, strolling the Third Street Promenade, dining at Michael’s near their $837 a month apartment, and taking in a Red Sox or Celtics game at Sonny MacLean’s, the Santa Monica Irish pub.

Bulger is not the only one from that dark period of Boston history to end up in L.A. Right around the time of Bulger’s flight, Connolly’s boss, FBI supervisor John Morris—nicknamed “Vino” because Bulger and Flemmi loved to gift him expensive cases of wine—was promoted and sent to the FBI field office where, astonishingly, he took over a public corruption and government fraud unit. Morris said he worked in L.A. from 1994 until 1995 and retired after he got a call from a “Mr. White” with a warning after the Boston Globe revealed the FBI’s relationship with the fugitive mob boss.

The voice on the other end of the line was Bulger’s, and he knew it well. Bulger had dined at his home several times, along with Flemmi, and he knew Bulger meant business, which led him to have a career-ending heart attack.

Morris testified at the ganger’s 2013 trial. “He wanted me to use my Machiavellian mind to contact my sources at the Globe to get them to retract the story about him being an informant, and that if I didn’t, I had taken money from him, and if he went to jail, I was, ‘coming with him,’” Morris testified. The stress of the call, he testified, and the guilt that came with climbing into bed with men like Bulger and Flemmi, forced him to quit.

“I could remember the director coming in and giving speeches on integrity, and I just—I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get out,” Morris told the court.

In 2013, Bulger, who insisted at his trial that he never worked for the FBI, was convicted of 31 counts including racketeering, money laundering, and weapons charges, and was found by the jury to have been involved in 11 murders. He was sentenced to two life sentences plus five years.

In October 2018, Bulger was five years into that sentence when, within hours of an inexplicable transfer to a West Virginia federal penitentiary, his wheelchair was wheeled into a general population area and he was brutally beaten to death and mutilated. No one has been charged with his killing.

On Wednesday, the Florida Commission on Offender Review voted 2-1 to approve Connolly’s medical release following a short hearing where the disgraced FBI agent’s lawyers argued the 80-year-old has cancer and should be allowed to die at home. Connolly’s friend, a former Massachusetts state official, told the board he would drive Connolly from the Florida prison to his Boston home and assume all his medical costs.

It is unclear if Connolly will be living anywhere near Whitey’s paramour, Catherine Greig, who was released from prison last January and is back in South Boston. She has never talked about the $800,000 in cash or the 30 weapons that were found secreted in the walls of the Gasko apartment in Santa Monica.


Notorious mobster "Whitey" Bulger was apparently part of the CIA's mind control drug program

One of the most bizarre and disturbing government programs in American history is in the news again. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that a member of the jury in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous Boston mobster convicted in 2013 of killing eleven people between the 1970s and 1990s, has expressed regret over voting to convict the mobster of murder. Her reason? She ended up corresponding with Bulger while he was in prison, and he told her that he’d been subjected to the CIA’s infamous MK-ULTRA program, in which prisoners and other people were dosed with LSD dozens of times in order to study the drug’s potential for mind control.

Yes, you read that right — mind control. In light of the revelation, trial witness Janet Uhlar spoke to AP about her feelings of regret over convicting Bulger of murder.

“Had I known [about Bulger’s involvement in MK-ULTRA], I would have absolutely held off on the murder charges,” Uhlar told AP. “He didn’t murder prior to the LSD. His brain may have been altered, so how could you say he was really guilty?”

Bulger was known as one of the most vicious mobsters in Boston for much of his life. He was notoriously aided by corrupt officials within the FBI, who gave him leeway to commit crimes in return for his assistance with informing on his rivals. After he was tipped off to plans for his arrest, Bulger went on the run and spent 16 years living in hiding in Southern California.

After his conviction, Uhlar began exchanging letters with Bulger in prison. There, he told her that he’d been subjected to the secret CIA program during his first stretch in federal prison, in the late 1950s. That’s when, he told her, the CIA dosed him with acid more than 50 times.

Bulger was apparently offered reduced time in prison in exchange for his participation in MK-ULTRA. Subjects were told the program was being used to try and find a cure for schizophrenia. Agents “appealed to our sense of doing something worthwhile for society,” Bulger said in one of his letters to Uhlar.

MK-ULTRA has a dark and sordid history. The top-secret program was in effect between 1953 and 1973 before being revealed to the public in congressional hearings in 1975. Fearing that Cold War enemies like Russia and China were using mind control on American prisoners captured during the Korean War, the U.S. government authorized the CIA to use practically any means at its disposal to develop mind control techniques of its own. The experiments ranged from doses of hallucinogens to electroshock therapy and paralytics. A doctor named Sidney Gottlieb oversaw the hallucinogenic experiments, which took place both at Stanford University labs and in the field, in prisons, and at other sites. In one operation known as Midnight Climax, CIA agents used prostitutes to lure men to a house where they were secretly dosed with LSD and then observed.

The CIA destroyed many records pertaining to MK-ULTRA after the program was ended in 1973. To date, there is still no full accounting of how many people were subject to the experimental drug treatments.

Bulger wasn’t the only notable person to take part in MK-ULTRA, either: Ted Kacyznski (better known as the Unabomber), One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest author and LSD evangelist Ken Kesey, and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter were also given doses as part of the program.

Uhlar first learned that Bulger was part of the program after noticing that the mobster would often write to her late at night. “He always seemed to be writing at 1, 2, or 3 in the morning and when I asked him why, he said it was because of the hallucinations,” Uhlar said. Bulger then explained that he’d been unable to sleep soundly due to the horrific nightmares and hallucinations he’d experienced regularly since receiving LSD from the government in prison.

“Sleep was full of violent nightmares and wake up every hour or so — still that way — since ’57,” he wrote in one letter to Uhlar. In another, he wrote: “Auditory and visual hallucinations and violent nightmares — still have them — always slept with lights on helps when I wake up about every hour from nightmares.”

Uhlar told AP that she developed regrets after reading about the history of the MK-ULTRA program. “It was encouraging to know I wasn’t losing my mind, thinking this was important,” she said. “It told me, this is huge. I mean, how many lives were affected by this? We have no idea.”


Fugitive Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger arrested in California

View full size AP Photo/David Zentz FBI agents stand in the ground floor parking garage of the apartment building in Santa Monica, Calif., where fugitive crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig were arrested Wednesday evening. Bulger, a notorious Boston gangster on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list for his alleged role in 19 murders, was captured Wednesday near Los Angeles after living on the run for 16 years, authorities said.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger was captured near Los Angeles 16 years after his run from the law sparked an international manhunt and served as a major embarrassment to the

as their onetime informant eluded authorities.

The FBI finally caught the 81-year-old Bulger at a residence in Santa Monica along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig on Wednesday, just days after the government launched a publicity campaign to locate the fugitive mobster, said Steven Martinez, FBI's assistant director in charge in Los Angeles. The arrest was based on a tip from the campaign, he said.

Bulger, who was an inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film, "The Departed," is wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders. At one time, he provided information on a rival gang to the FBI, then fled in January 1995 when a former agent told him he was about to be indicted.

The FBI had been conducting surveillance in the area where the arrest was made, said police Sgt. Rudy Flores, who gave no details of the arrest. Agents swarmed around Bulger's building late Wednesday, hours after the arrests in a neighborhood of two and three-story apartment buildings.

Bulger lived on the third floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story, 28-unit building of one and two-bedroom apartments three blocks from a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Neighbors said the couple did not stand out.

Barbara Gluck, who lives on the same floor as Bulger and Greig, said she didn't know their names but recognized them from photos on the Internet after she heard about their arrest.

Gluck described Greig as "sweet and lovely" and said they would have "girl talk" when they ran into each other in the building. Bulger became angry whenever he saw the two of them talking, and would say, "Stop talking to her," Gluck said.

"He was nasty," she added. "At one point, (Greig) said (Bulger) has a rage issue," Gluck said.

Bulger and Greig were scheduled to make an appearance in Los Angeles federal court Thursday. He faces a series of federal charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering, while the 60-year-old Greig is charged with harboring a fugitive.

The arrest brings an end to a manhunt that received worldwide attention as the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and Greig from all over the United States and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was Bulger who was spotted or a lookalike.

The investigation touched the highest level of Massachusetts politics. Bulger's younger brother, William, was one of the most powerful politicians in the state, leading the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years and later serving as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years. William Bulger told a congressional committee that he spoke to his brother shortly after he went on the run in 1995 but had no idea about his whereabouts.


Notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger arrested

LOS ANGELES — James "Whitey" Bulger, a notorious Boston gangster on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list for his alleged role in 19 murders, has been captured near Los Angeles after living on the run for 16 years, authorities said Wednesday.

Santa Monica Police Sgt. Rudy Flores said his agency was informed of the arrest by the FBI.

Bulger has been the subject of several crime books, and was even the inspiration for "The Departed," Martin Scorsese's 2006 Oscar-winning film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Bulger, 81, was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang when he fled in January 1995 after being tipped by a former Boston FBI agent that he was about to be indicted. Bulger was a top-echelon FBI informant, who had also been wanted for a host of crimes committed from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Over the years, the FBI battled a public perception that it had not tried very hard to find Bulger, who became a huge source of embarrassment for the agency after the extent of his crimes and the FBI's role in overlooking them became public.

Prosecutors said he went on the run after being warned by John Connolly Jr., an FBI agent who had made Bulger an FBI informant 20 years earlier. Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May 2002 for protecting Bulger and his cohort, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, also an FBI informant.

Bulger provided the Boston FBI with information on his gang's main rival, the New England Mob, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was one of the FBI's top national priorities.

Trending News

But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticized when the extent of Bulger's alleged crimes and his cozy relationship with the FBI became public in the late 1990s.

During his years on the run, the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, from all over the United States and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was actually Bulger who was spotted or simply a lookalike.

Flores said the FBI had been conducting a surveillance operation in the area where the arrest was made. He gave no details of the arrest.

The FBI in Los Angeles didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

First published on June 23, 2011 / 12:57 AM

© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Whitey Bulger, Boston gangster, found dead in prison at 89

BRUCETON MILLS, West Virginia -- James "Whitey" Bulger, the murderous Boston gangster who benefited from a corrupt relationship with the FBI before spending 16 years as one of America's most wanted men, was slain in federal prison. He was 89.

Bulger was found unresponsive Tuesday morning at the U.S. penitentiary in West Virginia where he'd just been transferred, and a medical examiner declared him dead shortly afterward, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Authorities did not immediately release a cause of death, but Justin Tarovisky, a prison union official, told The Associated Press the death was being investigated as a homicide.

Bulger, the model for Jack Nicholson's ruthless crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, "The Departed," led a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets. He also was an FBI informant who ratted on the New England mob, his gang's main rival, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was a top national priority for the FBI.

Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after his FBI handler, John Connolly Jr., warned him he was about to be indicted. With a $2 million reward on his head, Bulger became one of the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" criminals, with a place just below Osama bin Laden.

There was no love lost for Bulger on the Boston streets he once ruled.

Celebrities and notable figures who have recently passed away

Patricia Donahue's husband, Michael, was killed in 1982 when he offered a ride home to a man allegedly targeted for death by Bulger because he was talking to the FBI.

"I'd like to open up a champagne bottle and celebrate," she told WBZ-TV on Tuesday.

Tom Duffy, a retired state police detective who searched for Bulger and was a consultant on "The Departed," called word of Bulger's death "celebratory news."

When the extent of his crimes and the FBI's role in overlooking them became public in the late 1990s, Bulger became a source of embarrassment for the FBI. During the years he was a fugitive, the FBI battled a public perception that it had not tried very hard to find him.

After more than 16 years on the run, Bulger was captured at age 81 in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.

In 2013, he was convicted in the slayings, as well as for extortion and money-laundering, after a sensational racketeering trial that included graphic testimony from three former Bulger cohorts: a hit man, a protege and a partner. He was sentenced nearly five years ago to two consecutive life sentences plus five years.

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.

Bulger, nicknamed "Whitey" for his bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project and became known as one of the most ruthless gangsters in Boston. His younger brother, William Bulger, became one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts, leading the state Senate for 17 years.

In working-class "Southie," Bulger was known for helping old ladies across the street and giving turkey dinners to his neighbors at Thanksgiving. He had a kind of Robin Hood-like image among some locals, but authorities said he would put a bullet in the brain of anyone who he even suspected of double-crossing him.

"You could go back in the annals of criminal history and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone as diabolical as Bulger," said Duffy.

"Killing people was his first option. They don't get any colder than him," Duffy said after Bulger was finally captured in June 2011.

Bulger was accused of strangling Debra Davis, the 26-year-old girlfriend of his partner, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, and Deborah Hussey, also 26, the daughter of Flemmi's common-law wife. In both cases, Bulger insisted on pulling out the women's teeth so they would be difficult to identify, Flemmi testified.

During a search of his Santa Monica apartment, agents found over $800,000 in cash and more than 30 guns, many hidden in holes in the walls. A property manager at the building said Bulger and Greig, who used the names Charles and Carol Gasko, had lived there for 15 years and always paid the rent-controlled rate of $1,145 a month in cash.

They were caught days after the FBI began a new publicity campaign focusing on Greig. The daytime TV announcements showed photos of Greig and noted that she was known to frequent beauty salons and have her teeth cleaned once a month.

A woman from Iceland who knew Bulger and Greig in Santa Monica saw a report on CNN about the latest publicity campaign and called in the tip that led agents to them. The Boston Globe identified the tipster as a former Miss Iceland, a former actress who starred in Noxzema shaving cream commercials in the 1970s.

Greig is still serving her sentence at a federal prison in Minnesota.

Bulger, a physical fitness buff, had been taken to a Boston hospital from his jail cell at least three times, complaining of chest pains, since being brought back to Boston to stand trial.


Here & Now Guests:

  • David Boeri,Here & Now reporter
  • Peter Gelzinis,Boston Herald columnist

Former Boston mob boss and FBI informant James "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested without incident last night in Santa Monica, California, after more than 16 years on the run from the law.

Despite an international manhunt, Bulger and Grieg reportedly lived a quiet life blocks from the ocean, under the aliases Charles and Carol Gasko. Bulger is allegedly connected with at least 19 mob-related murders. In 2003, a congressional committee labeled the FBI's use of Bulger and other criminals as informants "one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement."


James 'Whitey' Bulger: A timeline

A history of notorious Boston mobster James `Whitey' Bulger and his ties to FBI, New England mob.

Sept. 3, 1929: James Bulger is born to Irish immigrant parents living in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. He is the second of six children. His shock of platinum blonde hair earns him the nickname "Whitey."

1956: Whitey Bulger is sentenced to federal prison for bank robbery. After he's suspected of plotting an escape from one prison, he's transferred to Alcatraz to serve part of his term.

1960: Bulger's younger brother, William, is elected to the state House of Representatives. John Connolly, a childhood friend from South Boston, works on the campaign.

1965: Whitey Bulger is released from prison and comes home to "Southie." He becomes a top lieutenant to Somerville mobster Howie Winter, head of the Winter Hill Gang.

Mid-1960s: Gangster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi develops a relationship with Boston FBI agent H. Paul Rico. Flemmi, using the code name "Jack from South Boston" informs on members of the Providence, R.I.-based New England Mafia.

1969: Flemmi is indicted for the murder of a mobster, and with childhood friend "Cadillac" Frank Salemme, for a car bombing. Rico tips off Flemmi that the indictments are coming, and the two flee Boston. Flemmi spends the next 4 1/2 years on the lam.

1970: William Bulger is elected to the state Senate.

1972: John Connolly, now an FBI agent, recognizes Salemme on the street in New York City and arrests him. Salemme is later sentenced to 15 years in prison. The arrest earns Connolly a transfer back to his hometown of Boston.

1974: Flemmi returns to Boston after criminal charges are dropped when several key witnesses recant. He hooks up with Winter, who counts Whitey Bulger among his key allies.

June 1975: Edward Connors is killed by Flemmi to prevent him from telling authorities about an earlier murder by the Winter Hill Gang.

September 1975: Acting partly on Flemmi's recommendation, Bulger cuts a deal with Connolly to provide information on the Italian Mafia in exchange for protection from the FBI.

1977: Veteran agent John Morris is appointed to oversee Connolly and his underworld informants.

1978: William Bulger becomes president of the state Senate and goes on to serve in the post longer than anyone in its history.

1979: After a former business associate implicates Whitey Bulger and Flemmi in a horse race-fixing scheme, FBI agents Connolly and Morris persuade federal prosecutors to leave the two out of the indictment. Twenty-one people are charged, including Howie Winter, whose conviction paves the way for Bulger and Flemmi to assume control of the Winter Hill Gang.

November 1980: Bulger and Flemmi help the FBI plant a surveillance bug in the North End headquarters of Boston Mafia boss Gennaro Angiulo.

May 1981: Roger Wheeler, the owner of World Jai Alai, a gambling enterprise from which Bulger and Flemmi have been skimming money, is shot between the eyes in the parking lot of his country club in Tulsa, Okla. The killer is Winter Hill Gang hit man John Martorano.

Spring 1982: Bulger and Flemmi gun down a former henchman in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from telling about the Wheeler murder. Connolly files a report with the FBI saying rival gangsters made the hit.

July 1982: Flemmi and Bulger order Martorano to kill John Callahan, the former president of World Jai Alai, to prevent him from telling investigators about the Jai Alai scheme.

January 1995: Bulger disappears on the eve of his indictment on racketeering charges.

1997: The FBI, under court order, acknowledges that Bulger and Flemmi were "top echelon" informants as a federal probe into the agency's corrupt ties to its mob informants begins.

May 2002: Connolly is convicted of racketeering for warning Bulger, Salemme and Flemmi that they were about to be indicted in January 1995.

June 2003: William Bulger testifies before a congressional committee investigating the FBI's ties to mobster informants such as his brother. After receiving immunity, he acknowledged receiving a call from Whitey shortly after he fled, but said he has not heard from him since and has no idea where he is.

August 2003: William Bulger resigns as president of the University of Massachusetts system amid growing pressure.

2005: Federal and state law enforcement officials investigate leads and Whitey Bulger look-alikes in at least 19 countries.

2006: Authorities release 26-year-old surveillance video of Bulger in the hope that someone will recognize his mannerisms.

2007: FBI releases video of a couple that resembles Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, in Italy.

2008: Connolly is convicted of second-degree murder in the hit on John Callahan, as prosecutors argue the information he provide the mobsters was critical to the hit.

2010: FBI appeals to plastic surgeons in the effort to locate Bulger and Greig.

June 20, 2011: FBI announces an effort to target Greig in the hopes of reaching Bulger.


‘Whitey’ Bulger, notorious Boston mobster-turned-fugitive captured in Santa Monica, is dead at 89

James J. “Whitey” Bulger Jr., the ruthless Boston mobster who topped the FBI’s most-wanted list and was found quietly living as a fugitive near the ocean in Santa Monica in 2011, has died in prison, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He was 89.

Bulger was found unresponsive early Tuesday in his prison cell at United States Penitentiary Hazelton, a high-security prison in West Virginia where the aging mobster had been moved just the day before. A prison union official said Bulger’s death is being investigated as a homicide. The FBI is investigating.

Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, lived under assumed names for nearly 16 years in a two-bedroom apartment near Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. They were known as Charlie and Carol Gasko, and their acquaintances thought they were retirees from Chicago.

In fact, Bulger had been the subject of a global manhunt since fleeing Boston in 1995 after he was tipped off to his federal indictment by a former FBI agent. Bulger claimed after his capture that federal authorities had secretly granted him immunity from prosecution for all crimes past and present, but his argument was thrown out of court in 2013 and a Boston jury found Bulger guilty of 11 murders and numerous counts of extortion and racketeering.

His case was the subject of a congressional inquiry on whether FBI agents in Boston enabled their underworld informants to do whatever they felt advanced their illicit businesses, including murder. John Connolly Jr., Bulger’s main FBI handler, was later sent to prison for his role in Bulger’s flight and in a Florida killing.

Born in Boston on Sept. 3, 1929, James Joseph Bulger Jr. was raised in tough South Boston and dropped out of school in the ninth grade. He served in the Air Force and later did time at Alcatraz and other federal prisons for bank robberies. His brother William Bulger became one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts, serving 18 years as president of the Massachusetts Senate and eight years as president of the University of Massachusetts.

Bulger inspired many TV and movie productions, including the 2006 Academy Award-winning film “The Departed.”

Bulger managed for 16 years to elude federal authorities, who had targeted him with a $2-million reward and tracked down false leads of his fleeting presence on nearly every continent. When Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, Bulger moved to the top of the FBI’s most-wanted.

Two years later, Bulger was convicted in Boston of 11 murders as well as extortion and racketeering schemes that allegedly netted him more than $25 million. Greig was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Bulger in his flight. An additional 21 months was added to her sentence in 2016 when she refused to testify before a grand jury.

Since 1996, Bulger had hidden in plain sight as Charlie Gasko, an avuncular geezer who handed out miniature flashlights to neighbors but also warded them off with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his apartment door.

Bulger as Gasko was cantankerous, but friendly enough to give a black Stetson hat to his guitar-playing apartment manager. He loved to stroll Santa Monica’s busy Third Street Promenade and he was lucky enough to rent an affordable apartment just blocks away.

Ultimately, the charismatic hoodlum who ran a criminal empire under the nose of federal authorities and whose lavish gifts to FBI agents were exposed in criminal and congressional hearings, was brought down by his girlfriend’s concern for a stray cat.

In 1995, Bulger and Greig fled Boston after former FBI agent Connolly, an old family friend who grew up in Bulger’s tough South Boston neighborhood, tipped him to his coming federal indictment.

Traveling around the country for more than a year under various aliases, the couple found their apartment in a Santa Monica building called the Princess Eugenia. Agents who raided Apartment 303 on June 22, 2011, found 30 guns and more than $822,000 in cash stashed in holes Bulger had cut neatly in the walls. An unfinished memoir was on the nightstand.

Bulger had been featured 15 times on the “America’s Most Wanted” TV show. An FBI task force had sought him for years. But in 2011, when authorities ran daytime TV ads that focused on Greig, an acquaintance named Anna Bjornsdottir responded immediately. Bjornsdottir, a yoga instructor and former Miss Iceland, knew Greig as Carol Gasko, the nice woman from across the street who befriended an abandoned tabby named Tiger. She knew Bulger as Charlie Gasko, a sour, bigoted old man who dropped no hints about his past.

Bulger’s story had epic qualities. He grew up poor in a family that became one of the most powerful in Massachusetts. Younger brother William was forced out of his university post by his fugitive brother’s notoriety.

Meanwhile, Whitey, whose nickname reflected his boyhood shock of blond hair, had become a bank robber and served time in Alcatraz. Drifting back to the neighborhood after his parole in 1965, he was seen by some as a kind of Robin Hood, a criminal who protected his weaker neighbors and stole mostly from those who were thought not to deserve deserve their good fortune.

“You had a husband giving a wife a hard time, that’s the stuff you went to him for,” Peggy Davis-Mullen, a Boston City Council member from Bulger’s old neighborhood, told The Times in 1999. “You knew that he was a guy involved in organized crime but you also had — I’ve got to be honest with you — regard for the man. I don’t know what he did when he was doing his business, whatever his business was, but I know that he was a guy on the street and that he was good to people who were poor.”

The portrait of him that emerged at his 2013 trial wasn’t quite so exemplary.

Bulger was convicted of fatally shooting rival gangsters, suspected informants and bystanders who simply got in the way. He chained alleged jewel thief Arthur “Bucky” Barrett to a chair, interrogated him about hidden cash and then shot him in the head. He strangled Deborah Hussey, the daughter of his henchman Stephen Flemmi’s girlfriend, because he thought she had a big mouth and would implicate him in crimes.

In testimony and court filings, witnesses described Bulger’s murders not only as business decisions but also as acts that he relished, sometimes taking a nap while Flemmi yanked out the teeth of the dead to make identifying them more difficult.

Others spoke of threats: Bulger telling a restaurant owner that he’d cut off his ears and stuff them in his mouth if he didn’t come up with his loan payments Bulger taking over a South Boston liquor store after plunking his gun on a table, hoisting the owner’s 2-year-old daughter onto his lap, and saying it would be a shame to not see her grow up.

Over the years, Bulger’s cinematic life story drew interest from Hollywood. With Jack Nicholson portraying a Boston mob boss based partly on Bulger, “The Departed” won four Academy Awards in 2006, for best picture, screenplay, editing and directing by Martin Scorsese. In 2015, Johnny Depp played the Bulger-inspired character in “Black Mass.”

Bulger was the son of a laborer who lost an arm hopping a train. As a boy, Bulger fought constantly and broke into homes. A year after he left reform school in 1948, he enlisted in the Air Force and, despite a spotty disciplinary record, was honorably discharged in 1953.

Back on the streets, he robbed banks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Indiana, and did time in several federal prisons, including one in Atlanta where he participated in a researcher’s LSD experiments. He served nine years of a 20-year sentence, securing an early release with the help of his brother William, then a Massachusetts state representative, lobbying U.S. House Speaker John McCormack, according to Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, authors of a 2013 biography, “Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss.”

Returning to Boston, Bulger became a leading light in the underworld. According to court testimony, he gave information to Connolly about New England’s entrenched Mafia families. When it came to Bulger’s illicit dealings, Connolly and other agents looked the other way.

“Informants like these come along once in a lifetime,” Connolly told the Washington Post in 1999. “And I’m sorry, they’re never going to be angels. They’re going to be sociopaths.”

Connolly, who accepted a diamond ring, a $10,000 retirement bonus and other gifts from Bulger, said his superiors allowed Bulger and Flemmi to run gambling, loan-sharking and extortion operations without interference. “But not serious violence,” he said. “You know — violence violence.”

In 2002, the retired FBI agent was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for helping Bulger flee. In 2008, he was handed an additional 40-year sentence for giving Bulger information that led to a Florida killing.

At his own trial, Bulger never took the stand. During a jury break, he told U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper that she had made the proceedings a “sham” by throwing out his main argument: a purported deal with a federal prosecutor that granted him immunity for all crimes past and present in exchange for information that had saved the prosecutor’s life.

The judge declared that such a deal would have been illegal. Besides, she said, there was no evidence of the arrangement Bulger claimed he had struck with U.S. Atty. Jeremiah O’Sullivan, who died in 2009.

As Casper handed down Bulger’s sentence for acts of “almost unfathomable depravity,” she bristled over the admiration he had drawn in the past.

“You have over time and in certain quarters become a face of this city,” the judge told him. “That is regrettable.… You, sir, do not represent this city.”

4:05 p.m.: The article was updated with additional information about Bulger’s death.

12:35 p.m.: This article was updated with information about the circumstances of Bulger’s death.

This article was originally published at 10:10 a.m.

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A former obituary writer, Steve Chawkins joined the Los Angeles Times in 1987 after working as a reporter and editor at the Santa Fe Reporter in New Mexico and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. He has been a roving state correspondent and a columnist and reporter in the Ventura County edition. He also was managing editor of the Ventura Star-Free Press. He graduated in 1969 from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Chawkins left The Times in 2015.


Watch the video: The FBI Informant Murdered by Inmates Whitey Bulger. Seth Ferranti (May 2022).