BOSTON – A former federal investigator says a Mafia hit man is a suspect in the prison slaying of Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.
The official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Fotios “Freddy” Geas and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in 89-year-old Bulger’s killing Tuesday at a West Virginia prison.
The longtime investigator spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the case.
Geas was convicted in the 2003 killing of western Massachusetts mobster Adolfo Bruno.
Bulger was a longtime informant for the FBI who provided information on the Mafia. Geas was known to despise gangsters who ratted each other out.
Attorney David Hoose, who initially represented Geas in the Bruno case, says Geas “did not and would not rat on anyone.”
Federal officials say they are investigating Bulger’s death as a homicide.
The notorious and much-feared former Boston mob boss was killed Tuesday morning at the US Penitentiary Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.
“He lived violently and he apparently died violently,” said Dick Lehr, author of “Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss.” “It marks the full circle of a terrible life.”
The FBI is investigating the death, which occurred a day after his transfer to the West Virginia facility, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Bulger, 89, was found unresponsive at 8:20 a.m., according to a statement from the prisons bureau. He was pronounced dead by the Preston County medical examiner after failed lifesaving measures. No staff or other inmates were injured, the prisons bureau said.
The circumstances of this week’s transfer remain unclear. Bulger had also been housed at federal penitentiaries in Oklahoma and Tucson, Arizona.
“He was sentenced to life in prison, but as a result of decisions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that sentence has been changed to the death penalty,” defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said in a statement, referring for his former client. He declined further comment.
Bulger, who eluded federal authorities for more than 16 years before his arrest in June 2011, was serving the rest of his life in prison for a litany of crimes that included his role in 11 murders.
He was sentenced in November 2013 to two life terms plus five years as architect of a criminal enterprise that, in the words of a federal judge, committed “unfathomable” acts that terrorized a city.
A federal jury convicted Bulger that year of 31 counts, including racketeering, extortion, money laundering, drug dealing and weapons possession. The jury found him culpable in 11 killings from 1973 through 1985.