The once-feared Irish-American gangster, who survived decades on the street and 16 years on the lam, didn’t last 24 hours inside a West Virginia penitentiary before he was savagely beaten to death early Tuesday, according to reports.
The Boston Globe reported that a Mafia-affiliated inmate whacked Bulger, who famously ratted out Boston’s Italian organized crime operations while both working as an FBI snitch and running his own Irish crime syndicate — the Winter Hill Gang.
Bulger, 89, was found unresponsive at 8:20 a.m. inside his cell and pronounced dead at the high-security Hazelton, W. Va., facility, according to the Bureau of Prisons. He was transferred inside just one day earlier.
“Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff,” said a statement from the Bureau of Prisons. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified and an investigation has been initiated.”
No other details were provided surrounding his sudden, shocking and violent demise, and no arrests were made. But it seems like a case of live by the sword, die by the sword for Bulger, convicted five years ago of 11 homicides after the elusive fugitive was busted at his beachfront California apartment.
The Globe, citing sources, said Springfield, Mass. mobster Fotios “Freddy” Geas, who was serving a life sentence at the same prison, was a suspect in Bulger’s death. The sources said Bulger may have been killed by Geas and other inmates as punishment for his one-time role as an informant.
The missing Bulger had ranked No. 2 on the FBI Most Wanted list — right behind 9/11 terrorist Osama Bin Laden.
His lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., laid the blame for Bulger’s violent demise on BOP officials.
Though Bulger "was sentenced to life in prison … as a result of decisions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that sentence has been changed to the death penalty,” Carney said in a statement.
Relatives of Bulger’s murder victims shed no tears or raised a glass.
“Wherever he is, I’m sure it’s really hot,” said Tom Donahue, 44, whose dad Michael was among the dead. “I hope he’s bent over right now getting a pitchfork in the a--. … My mom wants to get a bottle of champagne.”
If the Mafia was involved, revenge was indeed a dish served cold as Bulger’s time as an FBI informant dates back to 1975 when he signed on with FBI agent John Connolly.
The cozy, corrupt relationship between the fed and the felon became the movie “Black Mass,” with Johnny Depp — hair slicked back and sunglasses perched on his nose — playing Bulger.
Connolly became an FBI star by using Bulger’s intel to target Boston’s Mafia. The feds, in return for Bulger’s inside information, turned a blind eye to the brutal boss’ criminal activities from gambling to prostitution to drugs.
And murder after murder after murder.
There was one more perk: Connolly tipped Whitey that the feds were coming with handcuffs in December 1995. Bulger bolted, living on the lam (with a $2 million reward for his capture) until his 2011 arrest.
The Bulger mystique only grew as the gangster evaded arrest despite endless “sightings” around the U.S. and the world. One tipster insisted spying Bulger inside a Boston movie theater in 2006, watching the Martin Scorsese movie “The Departed” — where Jack Nicholson played a mob boss based on the fugitive son of South Boston.
He was busted in 2011 and convicted two years later for an assortment of crimes including the homicides, extortion and money-laundering on a long-awaited day of reckoning for the relatives of his victims. His sentence at age 84: Two consecutive life terms — plus five years.
On the streets of South Boston, where Bulger once ruled as an urban Robin Hood wrapped in an Irish flag, few mourned his passing.
“I don’t think anyone is sorry to see him dead,” said Willie Spann, who recalls one of Whitey’s henchmen putting a gun to his head one night in a drunken incident.
Another longtime Southie resident, standing outside Bulger’s old Rotary Liquor Store, described Whitey’s killing as destiny.
“He got what he deserved,” the man said. “He was a f---ing mobster. What do you expect?”