The family of late South Boston crime boss and gambling kingpin James “Whitey” Bulger cannot claim damages from the US government over his death.
A federal judge in West Virginia has tossed a complaint that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) failed in its duty to protect the 89-year-old.
Bulger, who was a longtime FBI informant, was murdered in his prison cell in October 2018. The gangster was frail and wheelchair bound when he was beaten to death by a padlock stuffed inside a sock. His death occurred less than 12 hours after he was transferred from a Florida prison to US Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia.
As a known snitch against New England’s Patriarca crime family, the plaintiffs argued he should have been shielded from those who might do him harm. They also claim he may have been “deliberately placed in harm’s way.”
Predictably, within hours of his placement in general population at Hazelton, inmates believed to be from New England and who are alleged to have Mafia ties or loyalties, killed James Bulger Jr,” read the lawsuit.
No One Charged
Dismissing the case, US District Judge John Preston Bailey wrote that Congress had opportunities to create a damages remedy in cases where a prison housing decision led to injury but had not done so.
“Instead, it has repeatedly limited judicial authority to review BOP housing decisions and to entertain claims brought by prisoners,” he said.
Three years after Bulger’s ignoble demise, no one has been charged with the crime. In the immediate aftermath, at least four inmates were hauled into solitary confinement. One, Fotios “Freddy” Geas, a former Mafia hitman from Springfield, Mass., remains there and is the prime suspect in the murder.
Bulger was the boss of Irish American organized crime group the Winter Hill Gang. At the height of his powers in the mid-1980s, he controlled gambling, extortion, loansharking, truck hijackings, and arms trafficking rackets throughout eastern Massachusetts. At his trial in 2013, he was convicted of 11 murders.
His operations were protected by his cooperation with the FBI. In 1994, Bulger’s longtime FBI handler, John Connolly, tipped him off about his imminent arrest, and he went on the run.
He was a fugitive for 16 years until his capture in 2011 at a Santa Monica apartment, where he had been living quietly with girlfriend Catherine Grieg. In 2013, he receieved two life sentences for racketeering and murder.
Connolly was sentenced to 40 years on racketeering, obstruction of justice, and second-degree murder charges.
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