3 charged with murder of gangster in prison in 2018

Three people have been charged in the 2018 prison murder of notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, federal authorities said Thursday.

Photos Geas, 55; Paul J. DeCologero, 48; and Sean McKinnon, 36, were charged Wednesday with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia said in a statement.

A prison guard found Bulger’s body in his cell at 8:21 am on October 30, 2018 at Hazleton U.S. Prison in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, less than 12 hours after he arrived on a transfer from a federal prison in Florida.

photos "Freddy" Geas appears in court in defense of the Al Bruno murder trial, in Springfield, Massachusetts, on April 14, 2009.
Fotios “Freddy” Geas appears before a court proceeding in defense of the Al Bruno murder trial, in Springfield, Massachusetts, on April 14, 2009.Don Treeger / The Republican via AP file
Sean McKinnon.
Sean McKinnon.Family photo

According to prosecutors, Geas and DeCologero were accused of fatally hitting Bulger in the head several times.

Geas and DeCologero were also charged with complicity in murder and first-degree assault resulting in serious bodily harm, the statement said.

According to the statement, McKinnon was accused of making false statements to a federal agent.

Geas and DeCologero were behind bars when they were charged. McKinnon was taken into custody in Ocala, Florida, by the FBI’s Jacksonville, according to an FBI spokesperson.

Authorities have previously described Geas – who is serving a life sentence for murder – as the prime suspect in Bulger’s murder. Federal prosecutors say he was an enforcer for the New England Mafia in the 1990s and 2000s, making him a Bulger rival.

Bulger was the leader of the Irish mafia in Boston and an undercover FBI informant.

McKinnon was Geas’s cellmate in Hazleton, where he served an eight-year term for stealing guns from a Vermont gun store. Both men – along with DeCologero – were placed in solitary confinement in the hours after Bulger was beaten to death.

McKinnon told NBC News earlier this year that he was innocent.

DeCologero was serving a 25-year sentence for racketeering and witness tampering when he was charged.

It was not immediately clear whether he or Geas have lawyers to speak on their behalf.

Bulger, who was in a wheelchair when he was fatally beaten — and the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Departed” — was on the run for 16 years when he was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2013.

In 2019, Bulger’s family filed a $200 million wrongful death suit, alleging authorities “deliberately” endangered him when he was transferred to Hazleton. A judge dismissed the charges last year.

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