- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2005

BOSTON (AP) — He has been “spotted” throughout the United States, also in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay and most recently in two coastal resort towns in Uruguay.

Despite unconfirmed sightings in about 30 countries and on most continents, notorious Boston gangster James J. “Whitey” Bulger remains elusive after more than a decade on the run.

Unfortunately for investigators, most of the hundreds of reported sightings have turned out to be just people who look like Bulger, a balding, 75-year-old man who could blend in almost anywhere.

Last month, a Los Angeles TV station reported that investigators considered the possibility that Bulger could be the “senior citizen bandit” holding up banks in Southern California. That thought struck Boston investigators as comical.

“The proposition that he would be wearing a baseball cap and robbing banks in Los Angeles is just hilarious,” said Tom Duffy, a retired Massachusetts State Police major who spent years investigating Bulger.

Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, was also an FBI informant who turned in his competitors in the Italian Mafia. He disappeared in 1994 after being tipped by his FBI handler, John Connolly, that he was about to be indicted on racketeering charges. Connolly is now serving a 10-year sentence.

Bulger is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, has a $1 million reward on his head and has been featured at least a half dozen times on “America’s Most Wanted.” Last year, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said investigators had pursued 100 men on five continents in the past year alone. All turned out to be Bulger look-alikes.

Some investigators say his average, nondistinct looks have helped him hide. FBI-wanted posters describe Bulger as between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, between 150 and 160 pounds, with a medium build, blue eyes and thinning white or silver hair. Investigators believe Bulger is traveling with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, now 54.

“He can just blend in as a typical grandfather,” said Mr. Duffy. “If you saw this couple walking down a boardwalk somewhere, they wouldn’t stick out. There would be nothing that would draw your attention to them.”

Over the years, the FBI’s commitment to finding Bulger has been questioned by some who say investigators are worried he would embarrass the bureau with additional revelations about the corrupt relationship between the FBI and some of its informants.

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