Notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger had barely made himself at home at the high-security federal penitentiary in Hazelton, West Virginia, when surveillance cameras captured two inmates entering his cell at approximately 6 a.m. on Tuesday, October 30th. Two hours later, Bulger was found dead, “beaten unrecognizable,” wrote The New York Times. Bulger’s eyes were nearly gouged out, according to the Boston Globe, whose sources also named one of the lead suspects as Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 51, a mafia hitman serving a life sentence who “hated rats.”
“Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It’s probably that simple,” Ted McDonough, a private investigator who knows Geas, told the Globe.
Bulger was convicted in 2013 of participating in 11 murders during his reign as the head of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang from 1973-1985; he went on the lam in 1995 after learning of his impending arrest by the FBI, and wasn’t apprehended until 2011. But to his fellow criminals, Bulger’s name had become synonymous with something more sinister in the underworld than stabbing his rivals with icepicks or strangling women he feared may betray him — a rat. Starting in the 1970s, Bulger was a criminal informant for the FBI, snitching on organized crime in Massachusetts, especially Winter Hill’s longtime rivals, the New England Mafia, while the agency turned a blind eye to his crimes.
In 2011, Geas, 51, and his younger brother Ty were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in the 2003 murder of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, the then-head of the Genovese mafia crew in Springfield, Massachusetts, as well as Bruno’s associate Gary Westerman. The Geas brothers were groomed by Bruno’s rival, Anthony Arillotta, another associate of the Genovese crime family. As Greeks, they could never be “made” members of the Italian mob — nevertheless, the pair had Arillotta’s imprimatur, or official approval, and faithfully carried out numerous crimes on Arillotta’s behalf.
“Nobody screwed with them,” McDonough told the Boston Globe. “Freddy, especially.”
Eventually, Arillotta — who ordered both murders and participated in killing Westerman, his brother-in-law — turned on the Geas brothers and became the star witness for the prosecution. So did Frankie Roche, a close friend of Freddy Geas, who hired him to carry out the hit on Bruno. In 2007, Roche confessed to the murder to Springfield police, telling them, “I killed Al Bruno because I was paid to do it. Freddy Geas is the person who paid me to do it.”
Geas was also charged with being the getaway driver in the botched murder of Bronx union boss Frank Dabado, who was targeted by Genovese crime boss Artie Nigro after the two fought over a pair of Tony Bennett concert tickets.
According to the Boston Globe, Geas has not denied his alleged role in killing Bulger, but refused to name an accomplice. While federal authorities and prison officials have yet to confirm Geas as a suspect, his involvement and his silence wouldn’t come as a shock to those who know him.
“He wouldn’t rat on anybody,” attorney David Hoose, who represented Geas at the 2003 trial, told the Globe. “And he had no respect for anyone who would.”