BOSTON — A Mafia hit man who is said to hate “rats” is under suspicion in the slaying of former Boston crime boss and longtime FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger, who was found dead just hours after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison, a former investigator briefed on the matter said Wednesday.
The official said that Fotios “Freddy” Geas and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in Bulger’s killing. The longtime investigator was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Authorities have not disclosed the cause of death for the 89-year-old Bulger. He was found dead Tuesday.
Geas, 51, and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 killing of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a Genovese crime family boss who was gunned down in a Springfield, Massachusetts, parking lot.
Private investigator Ted McDonough, who knew Geas, told The Boston Globe: “Freddy hated rats.”
“Freddy hated guys who abused women. Whitey was a rat who killed women. It’s probably that simple,” McDonough told the newspaper, which first reported that Geas was under suspicion.
It was not clear whether Geas has an attorney. Several other lawyers who represented him over the years didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
An FBI spokeswoman in Pittsburgh declined to comment on Geas. Federal officials said only that they are investigating the death as a homicide.
Bulger led South Boston’s Irish mob for decades and became an FBI informant who supplied information on the New England Mafia, his gang’s main rival, in an era when bringing down the Italian mob was a top national priority for the bureau.
Tipped off that he was about to be indicted, Bulger became a fugitive and eluded authorities for nearly two decades before being captured in 2011. He was convicted in 2013 in 11 underworld slayings and a host of other crimes and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
He had just arrived Monday at USP Hazelton, a high-security prison in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. He had previously been in a prison in Florida, with a stopover at a transfer facility in Oklahoma City. Federal Bureau of Prisons officials and his attorney declined to comment on why he was being moved.
Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., blamed his death on prison officials, saying Bulger “was sentenced to life in prison, but as a result of decisions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, that sentence has been changed to the death penalty.”
Bureau of Prison officials had no comment on Carney’s remarks.
The Geas brothers were not made members of the Mafia because they were Greek, not Italian. But they were close associates of the mob and acted as enforcers.
Associated Press reporters Eric Tucker in Washington and John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia contributed to this report.