BRUCETON MILLS, Wv. (CBS) – Notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger has died in federal custody nearly five years after being sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice confirms.
Officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons say he died Tuesday in West Virginia. Bulger, 89, had just been transferred on Monday to USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills.
Authorities did not immediately release a cause of death. Sources told WBZ-TV I-Team chief correspondent Cheryl Fiandaca that Bulger was killed. Richard Heldreth, president of Local 420 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents workers at USP Hazelton, told CBS affiliate WPRI there was a homicide overnight, but he wasn’t told who was killed.
“This is the third homicide in seven months at our facility,” Richard Heldreth told the station. “We are very understaffed, we are short about 40 officers.”
The Department of Justice says Bulger was found unresponsive in his cell around 8:20 a.m. Prison staff attempted life-saving measures, but Bulger was later pronounced dead by the Preston County Medical Examiner. The FBI says they are investigating.
Bulger had recently been moved from a prison in Florida to a transfer facility in Oklahoma City. Bureau of Prisons officials and his attorney declined last week to comment on why he was being moved.
Bulger led a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area. He also served as an FBI informant who ratted on his gang’s main rival.
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