New England

New Details on the Prison Transfer That Led to Whitey Bulger's Death

The notorious Boston gangster was choked and beaten with a "lock-in-the-sock" inside his cell, according to law enforcement officials

Former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger was transferred to a new prison last week after his medical classification was changed to show that his health had suddenly improved.

The reason for Bulger's transfer is being closely scrutinized after he was beaten to death within hours of his arrival at a West Virginia prison.

An official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press last week that the 89-year-old was transferred to USP Hazelton in West Virginia for disciplinary reasons after causing problems at the prison in Florida, where he had been serving a life sentence for participating in 11 killings.

But a new report this week from the Boston Globe says that the Florida prison where Bulger had been housed considered him "a nuisance" and wanted to send him to another prison.

"They lowered his care level to get rid of him," an unnamed Bureau of Prisons official told the Globe.

The Bureau of Prisons refused to answer the Globe's questions about why Bulger's medical classification was changed, citing the ongoing investigation into his death.

Bulger, who ran a largely Irish mob in Boston in the 1970s and '80s, benefited from a corrupt relationship with the FBI. He worked as an FBI informant who ratted on the New England Mob while simultaneously running his own crime ring responsible for loansharking, extortion and a string of murders.

Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after being tipped off by his FBI handler that he was about to be indicted. He spent the next 16 years as one of America's most wanted fugitives until he was found in 2011, living with his girlfriend in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, California.

A Mafia hit man, Fotios "Freddy" Geas, who is said to hate "rats," and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in Bulger's killing , an ex-investigator briefed on the case said last week. The longtime investigator was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal officials have only said they are investigating Bulger's death as a homicide.

Bulger's killing was the third at Hazelton in the last six months.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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