Whitey Bulger, galpal nabbed in California
Fugitive Hub mobster was on lam since 1994
By O’Ryan Johnson and Laurel J. Sweet | Thursday, June 23, 2011 | http://www.bostonherald.com
| Local Coverage
Fugitive South Boston mob boss and once the most wanted man in the world, James “Whitey” Bulger was arrested last night in southern California after 16 years on the lam and to the astonishment of many who held to the myth that he would forever evade capture.
The 82-year-old gangster — wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders during his quarter century reign of terror as a ruthless mob boss and FBI informant — was taken into custody along with his longtime moll girlfriend Catherine Greig just two days after a fresh media blitz aired pictures of him and his longtime traveling companion on daytime TV shows such as “The View” and “Live with Regis and Kelly,” the FBI said last night.
Greig was wanted for harboring a federal fugitive.
The last confirmed sighting of Bulger came in London in 2002, and since then the trail had run cold with multiple leads sending FBI agents around the globe on a manhunt dating back to 1994. Bulger was taken into custody without incident at a residence in Santa Monica, the FBI said, crediting this week’s publicity campaign. Bulger and Greig are scheduled for an appearance today in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, the agency said.
The gangster fled Boston in December 1994, when he was tipped by his corrupt FBI handler John J. “Zip” Connolly Jr. that he was about to be indicted.
The $2 million bounty on Bulger’s elderly head is the largest reward ever offered by the FBI for a domestic fugitive. Until recently, he and 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden topped the most wanted list. Bin Laden was captured and killed by U.S. forces May 2.
Greig is a former dental hygienist. On Monday, the FBI doubled the reward for her capture from $50,000 to $100,000 and, for the first time in its hunt for the couple, the FBI launched a national ad campaign seeking information that would lead to their arrest.
Bulger’s reign was punctuated by the particularly gruesome mutilation murders of crime rivals and even young girlfriends.
With the help of Bulger’s cronies, state police unearthed his victims’ mangled bodies in mass graves off the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester and also in Quincy in 2000.
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 embattled 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 Connolly, an FBI agent who had recruited Bulger as an 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 Mafia, in an era when bringing down La Cosa Nostra was one of the FBI’s top national priorities.
But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticized when the extent of Bulger’s alleged crimes and his cozy relationship with the agency became public.
His younger brother, William M. Bulger, 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.
For many years, William Bulger was able to avoid any tarnish from his brother’s alleged crimes. But in August 2003, William Bulger resigned his post as president of UMass amid pressure from Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas Reilly.
His resignation came two months after he testified about his brother before a congressional committee. William Bulger said he spoke to his brother shortly after he went on the run in 1995 but never alerted authorities.
He said he had not heard from his fugitive brother since and did not know where he was hiding out.
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