Mob Boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Killed in Prison

Whitey Bulger's death being investigated as a homicide after mob boss is killed after one day in new prison.

Notorious Boston mob boss and FBI informant James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger was killed Tuesday in the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, a federal prison, according to The New York Times. Details of how Bulger was killed were not immediately released, but the union representing workers at the prison say the death was a murder.

Two unidentified Bureau of Prisons employees told The New York Times Bulger was beaten and killed by multiple inmates, who were potentially “affiliated with the mob.” The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of West Virginia will investigate the death as a homicide.

Bulger had only been at the maximum security prison for one day. Bulger had been serving his life sentence at a federal prison in Sumterville, Florida. He had been transferred to the Hazelton facility, after a brief stay at the federal lockup in Oklahoma, for better medical care. Bulger, 89, was found at 8:20 a.m. and life-saving measures were initiated.

Further reading: Joe Berlinger Makes Closing Statements on Whitey: United States of America V. James J. Bulger

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“No staff or other inmates were injured” because of Bulger’s killing, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.

Bulger was the boss of the Boston’s Irish mob “Winter Hill Gang.” Bulger was born in South Boston in 1929. As a teenager, Bulger got his street rep with his fists, and his fingers. He was a good fighter, and a better thief. He was often compared to Robin Hood. He helped little old ladies cross the street, gave out turkeys on Thanksgiving and extorted neighborhood drug dealers.

Further reading: Whitey: United States of America V. James J. Bulger review

Bulger trafficked weapons to the IRA in the 1980s. Whitey was giving it up to feds for years, but wasn’t exactly a rat. He always maintained he was using the feds to do his dirty work. That would make him a genius. Whitey Bulger rose to power with the help of corrupt Boston FBI agents. He had the FBI on his information payroll from the mid-1970s until January 1995, when he took it on the lam.

Bulger was indicted in 1994, fled prosecution to escape murder charges in 1994 after being tipped off by his FBI handler John Connolly that he was going to be arrested. The Boston mob boss spent 16 years on the run. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in June 2011. According to testimony from an arresting FBI agent federal investigators were led by Bulger to a stash of 30 weapons and $822,000 in cash by the accused mobster after his arrest. Bulger was convicted of 11 of 19 murders, extortion, shakedowns, money laundering, and drug dealing committed during the time he was boss of the Winter Hill crime gang during the 1970s and ’80s. Bulger was sentenced to two life terms in prison on Nov. 14, 2013.

Further reading: Whitey Bulger’s Mouthpiece Takes a Stand

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Johnny Depp plays Whitey Bulger in the movie Black Mass. Jack Nicholson played a version of him in Scorsese’s The Departed.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.

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