James "Whitey" Bulger
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The last confirmed sighting of Bulger before his capture was in London in 2002. However, there were unconfirmed sightings elsewhere. FBI agents were sent to Uruguay to investigate a lead. FBI agents were also sent to stake out the 60th memorial of the Battle of Normandy celebrations, as Bulger is reportedly an enthusiastic fan of military history. Later reports of a sighting in Italy in April, 2007, proved false. Two persons on video footage shot in Taormina, Sicily, formerly thought to be Bulger and his lover, Catherine Greig, walking in the streets of the city center, were finally identified as a tourist couple from Germany. In 2010, the FBI turned its focus to Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. In pursuit of Bulger, a known book lover, the FBI visited bookstores in the area, questioned employees, and distributed wanted posters. Following his arrest, Bulger revealed that he had in fact traveled frequently. Also following his arrest, it was clear that he had not been reclusive, witnesses coming forward to say they had seen him on the Santa Monica Pier and elsewhere in southern California. A confirmed report by an off-duty Boston police officer after a San Diego screening of The Departed also led to a search in Southern California that lasted "a few weeks".
After sixteen years at large and twelve years on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, California, on June 22, 2011.Bulger was captured as a result of the work of the Bulger Fugitive Task Force which consisted of FBI Agents and a Deputy US Marshal. According to retired FBI agent Scott Bakken, here you have somebody who is far more sophisticated than some 18-year-old who killed someone in a drive-by. To be a successful fugitive you have to cut all contacts from your previous life. He had the means and kept a low profile. A reward of US $2 million had been offered for information leading to his capture. This amount was second only to Osama Bin Laden's capture reward on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Bulger has been featured on the television show America's Most Wanted 16 times, first in 1995, and last on October 2, 2010. According to the authorities, the arrests were a direct result of the media campaign launched by the FBI in 14 markets across the country where Bulger and Greig reportedly had ties. The campaign focused on Greig, describing her as an animal lover who frequently goes to beauty salons. Authorities received a tip from a woman in Iceland that he was living in a Santa Monica, California, apartment near a beach. A day later, ". .. using a ruse, agents and other task force members lured Mr. Bulger out of his apartment", "arrested him 'without incident,' then went in the house and arrested Greig." Bulger was charged with murder, "conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, narcotics distribution and money-laundering." Agents found "more than $800,000 in cash, 30 firearms and fake IDs" at the apartment.
While Bulger is not claiming he is innocent to all charges, he is steadfast on two issues: Bulger remains firm that he never killed any women, and never provided information of substance to the FBI. Much like a president of a professional corporation, it is alleged by the media that Bulger was the principle of a large crime syndicate. And like any large outfit, it is plausible that numerous criminal activities were happening outside of Bulger's direct circle. Bulger has stated that some of the most violent crimes were plotted and carried out without his knowledge and later traced back to him in exchange for lesser sentences.
Bulger has two younger brothers, William Michael Bulger (born 1934) and John P. Bulger (born 1938). Senator William "Billy" Bulger is a Korean War veteran and formerly an influential leader of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts. In a long political career, Senator Bulger rose to become President of the Massachusetts State Senate. After his retirement he was appointed President of the University of Massachusetts system. In 2002, testimony before the United States Congress, Senator Bulger was grilled by legislators from both parties. When asked what he thought his brother did for a living, Senator Bulger responded: "I had the feeling that he was in the business of gaming and . . . or whatever. It was vague to me, illegal but I didn't . . . not all that violent . . . For a long while, he had some regular jobs, but ultimately it was clear that he was not, he wasn't doing what I'd like him to do. Let's just say I was naive in retrospect." Senator Bulger added that he loves his brother and hoped the most brutal allegations concerning him will be proven false. In addition, he grudgingly admitted to visiting an isolated pay phone in order to speak to his older brother, who was by then a fugitive. In 2003, as a direct result of these comments, Senator Bulger was forced by then-Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney to resign from the presidency of the University of Massachusetts. Judge John "Jackie" Bulger, a retired Massachusetts court clerk magistrate, was convicted in April 2003, of perjury to two grand juries regarding sworn statements he gave concerning contacts with his fugitive brother.
End of the Trail
On August 12, 2013, following a lengthy trial, Bulger was found guilty on 31 of the 32 counts he had been charged with. As part of the racketeering charges, the jury found that Bulger participated in the murder of 11 victims - Paul McGonagle, Edward Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur "Bucky" Barrett, John McIntyre, and Deborah Hussey. The jury found that the prosecution had not proved that Bulger was involved in the deaths of Michael Milano, Al Plummer, William O'Brien, James O'Toole, Al Notorangeli, James Sousa and Francis Leonard; they could not reach a finding on the murder of Deborah Davis. Bulger was sentenced on November 14, 2013 and received two life terms, plus five years.
Bulger surrendered to the idea that after a lifetime of crime and running from the law, he was defeated and would spend the rest of his life in prison. He commented in part during an interview:
I always feel like that sclupture by James Earle Fraser. It's an Indian on horseback, weary and tired horse, named the "The End of the Trail," the horse and rider bent forward, lance and bow, etc... it's over...
The apartment building in Santa Monica, California where Bulger lived as a fugitive with girlfriend Catherine Grieg under the name Gasko.
Bulger & Grieg lived in Apartment #303, the unit pictured in the top right corner.
Palisades Park in Santa Monica, where Bulger and Grieg took daily walks to the Rose Garden. Bulger would like reflect that his crime free years with Grieg in Santa Monica were the best times of his life.
Interviews with Whitey Bulger conducted by author Michael Esslinger covering his years on Alcatraz is now available in the audio and eBook versions of "Letters from Alcatraz" via Amazon. Click the above link for a sample.