BREAKING NEWS: San Monica, Los Angeles: Most Wanted Boston Fugitive James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Arrested By FBI: UPDATED

23 Jun

BULGER
 AP – FILE – This is an undated handout file photo the FBI released in this Dec. 30, 1998 showing reputed …

By BRIAN MELLEY and GREG RISLING, Associated Press Brian Melley And Greg Risling, Associated Press :

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger was captured near Los Angeles 16 years after his run from the law sparked an international manhunt and served as a major embarrassment to the FBI as their onetime informant eluded authorities.

Fugitive Crime Boss Arrested In California

The FBI finally caught the 81-year-old Bulger at a residence in Santa Monica along with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig on Wednesday, just days after the government launched a publicity campaign to locate the fugitive mobster, said Steven Martinez, FBI’s assistant director in charge in Los Angeles. The arrest was based on a tip from the campaign, he said.

Bulger, who was an inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed,” is wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders. At one time, he provided information on a rival gang to the FBI, then fled in January 1995 when a former agent told him he was about to be indicted.

The FBI had been conducting surveillance in the area where the arrest was made, said police Sgt. Rudy Flores, who gave no details of the arrest. Agents swarmed around Bulger’s building late Wednesday, hours after the arrests in a neighborhood of two and three-story apartment buildings.

Bulger lived on the third floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story, 28-unit building of one and two-bedroom apartments three blocks from a bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Neighbors said the couple did not stand out.

Barbara Gluck, who lives on the same floor as Bulger and Greig, said she didn’t know their names but recognized them from photos on the Internet after she heard about their arrest.

Gluck described Greig as “sweet and lovely” and said they would have “girl talk” when they ran into each other in the building. Bulger became angry whenever he saw the two of them talking, and would say, “Stop talking to her,” Gluck said.

“He was nasty,” she added. “At one point, (Greig) said (Bulger) has a rage issue,” Gluck said.

Bulger and Greig were scheduled to make an appearance in Los Angeles federal court Thursday. He faces a series of federal charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering, while the 60-year-old Greig is charged with harboring a fugitive.

The arrest brings an end to a manhunt that received worldwide attention as the FBI received reported sightings of Bulger and Greig from all over the United States and parts of Europe. In many of those sightings, investigators could not confirm whether it was Bulger who was spotted or a lookalike.

The investigation touched the highest level of Massachusetts politics. Bulger’s younger brother, William, was one of the most powerful politicians in the state, leading the Massachusetts Senate for 17 years and later serving as president of the University of Massachusetts for seven years. William Bulger told a congressional committee that he spoke to his brother shortly after he went on the run in 1995 but had no idea about his whereabouts.

He declined to comment to the Boston Globe about his brother’s arrest.

Bulger, nicknamed “Whitey” for his shock of bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project, and went on to become Boston’s most notorious gangster.

Along with Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, he led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area. U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern said in 2000 that the two were “responsible for a reign of intimidation and murder that spanned 25 years.”

The government has connected Bulger to a series of ruthless killings. One victim was shot between the eyes in a parking lot at his country club in Oklahoma. Another was gunned down in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from talking about the killing in Oklahoma. Others were taken out for running afoul of Bulger’s gambling enterprises.

Prosecutors said he went on the run after being warned by John Connolly Jr., an FBI agent in Boston who had made Bulger an informant 20 years earlier. Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May 2002 for protecting Bulger and Flemmi, also an FBI informant.

Bulger provided the Boston FBI with information on his gang’s main rival, the New England Mob, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was one of the FBI’s top national priorities.

But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticized when the extent of Bulger’s alleged crimes and his cozy relationship with the FBI became public in the late 1990s.

After he fled, Bulger became one of the nation’s most-hunted fugitives. With a place next to Osama bin Laden on the “Ten Most Wanted” list, he had a $2 million reward on his head.

In September 2002, the FBI received the most reliable tip in three years when a British businessman who had met Bulger eight years earlier said he spotted Bulger on a London street.

After the sighting, the FBI’s multiagency violent fugitive task force in Boston and inspectors from New Scotland Yard scoured London hotels, Internet cafes and gyms in search of Bulger. The FBI also released an updated sketch, using the businessman’s description of Bulger as tan, white-haired and sporting a gray goatee.

On Monday, the FBI announced a new publicity campaign and accompanying public service ad that asked people, particularly women, to be on the lookout for Greig. The 30-second ad started running Tuesday in 14 television markets to which Bulger may have ties and was to air during programs popular with women roughly Greig’s age.

The new campaign pointed out that Greig had several plastic surgeries before going on the lam and was known to frequent beauty salons.

John Weiskopf, who lives across the street from Bulger’s Santa Monica building, said he recognized Bulger when he saw his photo on the Internet.

“I recognized him. I said `Holy Smokes,'” he said.

“From what I understand, these were really gracious easy-going people,” Weiskopf said. “They don’t come out with fangs, they just blended in.”

For many years, William Bulger was able to avoid any tarnish from his brother’s alleged crimes. But in August 2003, he resigned his post as president of UMass amid pressure from then-Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas Reilly.

His resignation came two months after he testified about his brother before a congressional committee.

The committee, in a draft report issued in 2003, blasted the FBI for its use of Bulger and other criminals as informants, calling it “one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement.”

Police: Mobster Whitey Bulger arrested Play Video Video:Police: Mobster Whitey Bulger arrested AP

Whitey Bulger, Fugitive Mobster, Gets Nabbed In Santa Monica Play Video Video:Whitey Bulger, Fugitive Mobster, Gets Nabbed In Santa Monica CBS 2 / KCAL 9 Los Angeles

Famous Crime Boss James 'Whitey' Bulger Nabbed By FBI In Santa Monica Play Video Video:Famous Crime Boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Nabbed By FBI In Santa Monica CBS 2 / KCAL 9 Los Angeles

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Risling also reported from Los Angeles.

NEWS UPDATE:

File handout photograph of one of FBI "most wanted" fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger.
 Reuters – One of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, James “Whitey” Bulger, is seen in this photograph …
 
By Ros Krasny and Jeremy Pelofsky Ros Krasny And Jeremy Pelofsky
 
BOSTON (Reuters) – Former Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, one of America’s most wanted criminals, quietly walked into a dragnet thanks to a tip from the public that led police to his apartment hide-out.

Bulger, 81, fell for a ruse that lured him out of his apartment in Santa Monica, California, and was arrested without a fight, federal agents said at a news conference after Bulger and his long-time companion, on the run together since 1995, were apprehended.

Inside Bulger’s apartment, located only blocks from the Pacific Ocean, agents said they found a significant amount of money and a cache of guns and other firearms.

A fresh media campaign launched only on Tuesday and designed to find Bulger’s much younger girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60, paid off quickly with a tip, agents said.

Authorities will now seek to have Bulger and Greig extradited to Massachusetts, where Bulger will face life in prison if convicted, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said at the news conference.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said the media campaign that was directly responsible for the critical break in a case that had long stumped and embarrassed law enforcement. He praised an unidentified person for having had the courage to call the FBI’s Los Angeles office with the information that led to the pair’s arrest.

Agents from the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department staked out the three-storey apartment building on Wednesday afternoon.

It was “speculation” to guess how long the pair might have lived there, DesLauriers said.

The FBI this week rolled out a 30-second public service announcement it hoped would lead them to Greig.

The spot, announced on Monday, began airing on Tuesday during daytime television programs in 14 markets — although not in the Los Angeles area — and was aimed at aimed at female viewers in the same age group as Greig.

The agency had hoped a hair-stylist, manicurist, doctor or other acquaintance might recognize the former dental assistant who was known to obsess about oral hygiene.

Bulger, the former leader of the Irish-American criminal group, the Winter Hill Gang, had been wanted on 19 counts of murder committed in the 1970s and 1980s, drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy.

“We’ve gone a long way to bringing justice to the families of the victims,” Ortiz said.

Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 and was joined by Greig a few months later. A former decorated FBI agent was sentenced in 2002 to more than 10 years in prison for helping Bulger, who at times was serving as an informant, escape capture just before he was about to be arrested.

The scandal embarrassed the FBI and led to congressional hearings. The Bulger story also inspired the 2006 Martin Scorcese film, “The Departed” in which Jack Nicholson portrayed a character based on the reputed mob boss.

Bulger is the older brother of William “Billy” Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts State Senate. William Bulger had no comment on Thursday about his brother’s arrest.

He was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 1999. Greig was charged in 1997 with harboring a fugitive. A $2 million reward was offered for information leading to Bulger’s arrest and $100,000 for details of Greig’s whereabouts.

The FBI late on Wednesday slapped “Captured” tags on the photos they had posted on its website of Bulger and Greig, and agents on Thursday were gratified.

“Although there are those who have doubted our resolve over time, it has never wavered,” said DesLauriers.

Before their capture, the last credible sighting of the pair was in London in 2002. Bulger is thought to have traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, Canada and Latin America since slipping away.

The two are expected to make initial appearances in federal court in Los Angeles at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Bulger, said to be an avid reader and history buff who likes to take long walks on beaches, has been featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted” more than a dozen times between 1995 and 2010.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington and Ros Krasny and Lauren Keiper in Boston; Editing by Philip Barbara)

NEWS UPDATE:

Call it “The Departed” II: Real-life mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, who furnished the basis for the character that Jack Nicholson played in the Oscar-winning Boston crime drama, was finally arrested after 16 years as a fugitive. News of Bulger’s capture immediately sent searches on the Martin Scorsese film soaring on the Web.

Below is a look at the real-life Irish crime boss whose activity inspired the movie.

At the time of his capture, Bulger was The FBI’s No. 1 most wanted (he took Osama bin Laden‘s spot once the terrorist was killed). Born and raised in South Boston, Bulger got his nickname “Whitey” for his white-blond hair.

Click image to see images of Bulger and his Calif. home 
APThe wild teen quickly went criminal: He spent nine years in prison in the 1950s and ’60s for a series of bank robberies. According to a Boston Globe profile, the adult turned full-fledged gangster in the ’70s by fighting his way up the ranks of the Winter Hill Gang. He developed a reputation as a ruthless killer and is allegedly wanted in connection with 19 murders.

Bulger’s real-life rise to the top involved plenty of double dealing–just like in “The Departed.” A young agent, John Connolly, who had been childhood friend of Bulger’s, managed to turn him into an informant for the agency. Bulger ratted out members of the Italian mafia and helped the FBI build its case against Italian-American mobsters competing gang–as well as many of Bulger’s Irish-American colleagues. In return, the FBI helped Bulger escape arrest.

But Connolly retired from the FBI in 1990. (He is currently in prison after he was convicted on charges related to helping Bulger and his gang–allegations that Connelly denies.) Once Connolly left, the agency dropped Bulger as an informant and instead went after him.

In 1995, faced with racketeering and extortion charges, the crime lord went on the lam. The FBI put him on the 10 Most-Wanted List in 2000 with a $2 million reward on his head. According to the FBI’s website, Bulger was wanted for “his role in numerous murders committed from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s in connection with his leadership of an organized crime group that allegedly controlled extortion, drug deals, and other illegal activities in the Boston, Massachusetts, area.”

Oddly, law enforcement officials had been looking for the crime kingpin, the subject of numerous books, in bookstores: Searches through the fugitive’s belongings turned up Tom Clancy novels, and tomes on history, crime, and travel.

But the key turning point turned out to be a publicity campaign launched just days ago that ran TV spots on shows like “The View” in markets where the FBI thought the couple might be hiding.

A promising tip led the authorities to an apartment a few blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., where the now 81-year-old Bulger was living with his girlfriend, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, who is charged with harboring a fugitive.

NEWS UPDATE:

US crime boss captured after 17 years on run | 24/06/2011

‘Whitey’ Bulger arrested in California | 23/06/2011

Bloomberg

Gangland leader James “Whitey” Bulger has been ordered to be sent to Massachusetts to face charges following his arrest in Santa Monica, California.

Irish American Bulger (81), among the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitives since 1999, and girlfriend Catherine Greig (60) were arrested early yesterday by FBI agents after getting a tip-off.

Bulger appeared yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles and was ordered sent to Massachusetts, where he was indicted. In a 111-page indictment dated May 23rd, 2001, Bulger is described as a leader of a criminal organisation known as the “Bulger Group” and “Winter Hill Gang.”

The gangs committed extortion, loan sharking, bookmaking, narcotics trafficking and murder, beginning about 1972, the government said. Bulger was wanted in connection with 19 murders. The group is also linked to illegally shipping arms to the IRA and importing about 36 tonnes of marijuana into the United States, both in 1984, prosecutors said.

Bulger and accomplices that year allegedly buried three murder victims in the basement of a South Boston home, then dug them up a year later when it was being sold.

The group maintained contacts with police officers to get information on investigations, according to the indictment. Bulger, a one-time FBI informant, used disguises and travelled in Europe, Canada and Mexico after fleeing, the FBI said. His aliases included Harold Evers and Ernest E. Beaudreau.

Bulger and Greig, both represented by public defenders, did not challenge the government’s request to keep them detained at yesterday’s hearing, Assistant US attorney Robert Dugdale said. They were ordered transferred to Boston “forthwith” where they will be arraigned, he added.

The arrests came a day after the FBI’s Boston office was to air public-service announcements about Greig, who fled with Bulger in 1995. She was wanted for harbouring a criminal and is not accused in any of his crimes, the FBI said in a June 20th statement about the advertising campaign.

NEWS UPDATE:

Alleged crime boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger has appeared before a Boston court, where he faces 19 murder charges.

'Whitey Bulger - Charged with 19 murders in the 1970s and 80s in Boston

‘Whitey Bulger – Charged with 19 murders in the 1970s and 80s in Boston

Alleged crime boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger has appeared before a Boston court two days after he was captured after 16 years on the run.

Dozens watching on the public benches strained for a glimpse as Mr Bulger walked into the courtroom in the city where he was once feared as one of the leaders of the notorious ‘Winter Hill’ gang.

The 81-year-old, whose life inspired the movie The Departed, spoke only once during the brief proceedings appearing before two magistrates.

Asked by Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler if he could afford a lawyer, the portly, tired-looking Mr Bulger replied: ‘Well, I could if you’d give me back my money.’

Mr Bulger is charged with 19 murders in the 1970s and 80s in Boston.

He was detained on Wednesday night in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living under an assumed name with his long-term girlfriend Catherine Greig, 60.

Police found some $800,000 in cash and several weapons in Mr Bulger’s modest apartment after his arrest.

US gangster ‘Whitey’ Bulger to be transferred

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