Elise Amendola; U.S. Marshals Service/AP Photo
A jury at the Federal Courthouse in Boston, MA found captured fugitive mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger guilty of racketeering and 11 counts of murder last week.
The elusive Bulger was captured with girlfriend Catherine Greig at a luxury apartment complex in Santa Monica, CA in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the run. Bulger was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for most of those 16 years, was also a source of embarrassment for the agency when it was made public that the Boston office of the FBI allowed Bulger's Winter Hill Gang to continue their criminal activities unimpeded in exchange for information on rival gangs, including the Providence, RI based Patriarcha crime family.
Bulger and his associates in the Winter Hill Gang were hired by former World Jai Alai president and Boston businessman John B Callahan to kill Oklahoma businessman Roger Wheeler- Callahan's successor at World Jai Alai. Callahan was reportedly worried that Wheeler would discover his embezzlement from the organization and report it to the FBI. One of Bulger's FBI handlers had retired and became head of World Jai Alai security, but would instead report on Wheeler's whereabouts to Bulger and the Winter Hill gang. Wheeler was shot and killed in his car outside a Tulsa, OK country club in May 1981.
Another FBI handler warned Bulger that Callahan was unlikely to hold up under questioning and one of the triggermen in Wheeler's killing was offering information to the Feds to try and get out of a separate murder charge. In July 1982, Callahan's bullet-riddled body was found stuffed in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami International Airport. Two months earlier, Bulger and associate Stephen 'the Rifleman' Flemmi shot and killed suspected FBI informant Brian Halloran and a bystander named Michael Donahue in South Boston.
In addition to tipping off Bulger on the whereabouts of potential witnesses or other Winter Hill gang members ready to turn informant, agents from the Boston office of the FBI has been accused of lying to detectives in Oklahoma and Florida investigating the Jai Alai slayings and pressured an eyewitness in the Halloran and Donahue murders to identify the wrong man.
Bulger and Flemmi also extorted Southie liquor store owner Stephen Rakes into selling his business to them and then intimidated him into changing his story when the matter initially went to court in the early 1990s. The 2013 trial of Whitey Bulger took a dramatic turn when Rakes turned up dead in Lincoln, MA last month. An autopsy showed that Rakes was poisoned and the Middlesex County DA charged a 69 year old man who reportedly owed Rakes a large sum of money with the murder.
Bulger and his girlfriend went into hiding in 1995 after FBI Agent John Connoly Jr tipped him off that a racketeering indictment was coming down. The FBI made hardly any headway until they ran a series of public service announcements focusing on Greig on daytime women's talk shows- within days, a tipster in southern California recognized Greig and Bulger as their neighbors, leading to their arrests.