James "Whitey" Bulger

Gangster / Fugitive / Convict

Born: 3 September 1929
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Best known as:

The Boston Irish gangster who was a fugitive, 1995-2011

Name at birth: James Joseph Bulger, Jr.

Fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger was on the F.B.I.'s 10 Most Wanted List from 1995 until 2011, and the reward offered -- $2 million -- was for a time second only to that on the head of Osama bin Laden. Whitey Bulger, so called because of his nearly-white hair as a youth, was once head of a predominantly Irish gang from South Boston, an organized crime ring formerly known as the Winter Hill Gang. A troublemaker as a boy and as a U.S. serviceman, Whitey was discharged from the Air Force in 1952 and went home to Boston to live a life of crime. He spent nine years in federal prison for bank robbery, from 1956 to 1965, including nearly four years (1959-63) in the notorious Alcatraz Prison. Then he returned to Boston to pick up where he left off. Whitey (sometimes called Jimmy) worked his way up to become boss and ran the gang during the 1970s and '80s; for many of those years he was also an F.B.I. informant who made a living through illegal gambling, money laundering, extortion and murder. The F.B.I. eventually issued a warrant for his arrest in 1995, but Bulger slipped through their fingers, supposedly because he was tipped off by his former F.B.I. contact, John Connolly. Whitey Bulger went on the run with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, wanted for 19 murders, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, drug distribution and racketeering. He was 81 years old when he was captured without incident on 22 June 2011 in Santa Monica, California. Tried in Boston, Bulger was convicted 12 August 2013 of racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and 11 of the 19 murders. On 14 November 2013 he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison, plus five years -- effectively guaranteeing that he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

Extra credit:

Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed depicts the F.B.I.'s relationship with a Boston Irish crime gang led by "Frank Costello" (played by Jack Nicholson), a character loosely based on Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger... John Connolly retired from the F.B.I. in 1990.  He was convicted in 2002 of federal racketeering and obstruction of justice, and he's due to be released from prison in 2011.  Connolly also faces a murder charge in the state of Florida (he was indicted in 2005), accused of complicity in the killing of a potential witness against Whitey Bulger. Connolly is unrelated to John Connally, the former governor of Texas... Whitey Bulger's younger brother, William Bulger, was the longest serving president of the Massachusetts State Senate (1978-96), and then served as the president of that state's university system from 1996 until 2003. He was pressured to resign because he testified to a congressional committee that he'd contacted his fugitive brother in 1995.

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