3 charged with killing gangster in prison in 2018

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

Photios 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 a.m. on October 30, 2018, at the Hazleton United States Penitentiary in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, less than 12 hours having arrived on a transfer from a federal penitentiary in Florida.

Fotios “Freddy” Geas appears for a court proceeding in his defense in the murder case of Al Bruno, in Springfield, Massachusetts, on April 14, 2009.Don Treeger / The Republican via AP fileSean McKinnon.Sean McKinnon.family photo

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

Geas and DeCologero were also charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder and assault resulting in serious bodily injury, the release said.

McKinnon was charged with making false statements to a federal agent, the release said.

Geas and DeCologero were behind bars when they were charged. McKinnon was arrested in Ocala, Fla., by FBI Jacksonville, according to an FBI spokesman.

Authorities have previously described Geas, who is serving a life sentence for murder, as the prime suspect in Bulger’s murder. According to federal prosecutors, he was a New England mob enforcer in the 1990s and 2000s, making him a rival of Bulger.

Bulger was the leader of the Boston Irish mob and a secret FBI informant.

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

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

DeCologero was serving a 25-year sentence for extortion and witness tampering when he was indicted.

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

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

In 2019, Bulger’s family filed a $200 million wrongful-death lawsuit, claiming that authorities “deliberately” put him in harm’s way when he was taken to Hazleton. A judge dismissed the suit last year.

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