The FBI will pay $1 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of fugitive James J. “Whitey” Bulger, the reputed mob boss wanted in connection with 18 murders over a 20-year period in Boston.
Bulger, whose brother, William, is a former state senator and currently president of the University of Massachusetts, was named in September in an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with the murders, all of which occurred between the 1970s and the 1990s.
Bulger, who once worked as an FBI informant, has been a fugitive since 1995 and is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
The reward puts Bulger in the company of Eric Rudolph, suspected in a number of bombings, including an abortion clinic in Alabama that killed a policeman and one that killed a woman at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, and terrorist Osama bin Laden, suspected of masterminding the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Both Rudolph and bin Laden have $1 million bounties on their heads offered by the FBI. Bulger is just the seventh person ever to warrant a reward of $1 million or more.
Federal prosecutors believe Bulger, along with an associate known as Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, controlled an organized crime syndicate known as the Winter Hill Gang, which operated out of the blue-collar, Irish-American South Boston neighborhood. The gang specialized in extortion, loan sharking, bookmaking and drug sales, prosecutors said.
Bulger, believed to have controlled the mob organization from the late 1970s until last year, disappeared in 1995 after the issuance of an initial indictment accusing him of taking part in a scheme to extort money from a bookmaker.
“It is critically important … that he be caught, and returned to Boston to stand trial,” said U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern, who has overseen the Bulger investigation. “There are people out there who have information. We know that.”
The September indictment accused Bulger of promoting and protecting his criminal ventures by engaging in “extensive and violent efforts to obstruct justice.” He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and fines totaling $3.5 million. He also faces criminal forfeiture of $10 million is assets.
Federal authorities believe Bulger, 71, is traveling with his girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, who faces charges of harboring a federal fugitive. He has been seen over the past five years in New York City and suburban Long Island; Sheridan, Wyo.; Long Beach, Miss.; Grand Isle, La.; Chicago; Albany, N.Y.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; New Orleans; Sloan, Iowa; and Fountain Valley, Calif.
The FBI has received more than 1,500 tips since he disappeared, but he remains at large.
As part of its continuing investigation, the FBI also has issued a new “Top Ten Wanted” poster for Bulger with new information and a new photograph, taken in 1994 just before his disappearance. It also said Bulger may be using the alias Mark Shapeton. His girlfriend, who is said to frequent beauty salons, is believed to have used the aliases Helen Marshall and Carol Shapeton.