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Prosecutors Won't Seek Death Penalty in Bulger's Killing

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By Lookout Staff

July 13, 2023 -- Prosecutors won't seek the death sentence against the Mafia hitman and the Massachusetts gangster charged with the 2018 beating death of former Santa Monica resident and Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger in a federal prison.

The decision by federal prosecutors was revealed in a court filing Wednesday in the case against the two suspects Fotios “Freddy” Geas and Paul J. DeCologero, that is scheduled to go on trial in December 2024.

Bulger -- who lived undercover in a Santa Monica apartment for nearly 16 years -- was killed hours after he was transferred to USP Hazelton, a U.S. penitentiary in West Virginia, from a lockup in Florida and placed in the general prison population.

Bulger was serving two consecutive life sentences for 11 murders and other crimes committed while he was head of Boston's Irish mob ("Former Santa Monica Resident 'Whitey' Bulger Found Dead in Prison Cell," October 30, 2018).

Prosecutors charged Geas, 55; DeCologero, 48, and Sean McKinnon, 36, with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Prosecutors allege that Geas and DeCologero struck Bulger multiple times in the head, causing his death.

They also charged the two men with assault resulting in serious bodily injury and aiding and abetting in first degree murder.

At the time of Bulger's killing, DeCologero -- who prosecutors said headed an organized crime crew in Lowell, Massachusetts -- was serving a sentence of life plus 25 years for ordering the murder of a teenager, racketeering and firearms offenses, according to the Washington Post.

Gaes, a reputed former mob enforcer, was serving a life term at the West Virginia prison for the 2003 murders of Genovese crime family boss Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno and associate Gary Westerman, the Post reported.

He was separately charged for the murder of a federal inmate serving a life sentence, the Justice Department said.

McKinnon, who was serving an eight-year sentence for stealing guns from a Vermont firearms store, and acted as a lookout. He did not face a possible death penalty.

An investigation by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General into Bulger's transfer from USP Coleman to Hazelton "identified serious job performance and management failures at multiple levels within the BOP (Federal Bureau of Prisons)."

Investigators found that Hazelton inmates learned of Bulger's transfer "days before it occurred" and that "minimal efforts" to plan for his arrival "enhanced the risk that Bulger would be harmed by other inmates."

“In our view, no BOP inmate’s transfer, whether they are a notorious offender or a non-violent offender, should be handled like Bulger’s transfer was in this instance,” the report said.

The 89-year-old Bulger, who was in a wheelchair and had serious heart conditions, was placed in solitary confinement at a Florida prison for eight months, the report said.

This "caused him to state that he had lost the will to live, and may
have affected his persistence upon arriving at Hazelton that he wanted to be assigned to general population."

Bulger was arrested in June 2011 by FBI agents outside the Santa Monica apartment building where he had lived since 1996 with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, after a renewed publicity effort turned up a tip on Greig.

The two lived under the assumed names Charlie and Carol Gasko on the third floor of the Princess Eugenia apartments at 1012 Third Street, where they paid $1,145 in rent and were considered model tenants by neighbors and building staff ("Whitey Bulger Lived in Santa Monica 15 Years, Reports Say," June 24, 2011).

During the two-month trial, prosecutors portrayed Bulger, who spent 16 years on the FBI's list of 10 most wanted fugitives, as a ruthless crime boss responsible for murdering rival gangsters and innocents.

Bulger stood accused of, among other things, strangling two women -- a charge he vehemently denied -- and executing two men after spending hours interrogating them while they were chained to stairs, according to an AP report at the time of the trial.

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