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Home  >  Topics  >  Federal Law Enforcement

June 23, 2011
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16 years on the run: A history of 'Whitey' Bulger

Associated Press

BOSTONA — After an international manhunt, the FBI caught 81-year-old James 'Whitey' Bulger and longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig at an apartment near Los Angeles. Bulger had a $2 million reward on his head and rose to No. 1 on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list after Osama bin Laden was killed. Here is a timeline of his life on the lam.

• Sept. 3, 1929: James Bulger is born to Irish immigrant parents living in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. He is the second of six children. His shock of platinum blonde hair earns him the nickname "Whitey."

• 1956: Whitey Bulger is sentenced to federal prison for bank robbery. After he's suspected of plotting an escape from one prison, he's transferred to Alcatraz to serve part of his term.

• 1960: Bulger's younger brother, William, is elected to the state House of Representatives. John Connolly, a childhood friend from South Boston, works on the campaign.

• 1965: Whitey Bulger is released from prison and comes home to "Southie." He becomes a top lieutenant to Somerville mobster Howie Winter, head of the Winter Hill Gang.

• Mid-1960s: Gangster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi develops a relationship with Boston FBI agent H. Paul Rico. Flemmi, using the code name "Jack from South Boston" informs on members of the Providence, R.I.-based New England Mafia.

• 1969: Flemmi is indicted for the murder of a mobster, and with childhood friend "Cadillac" Frank Salemme, for a car bombing. Rico tips off Flemmi that the indictments are coming, and the two flee Boston. Flemmi spends the next 4 1/2 years on the lam.

• 1970: William Bulger is elected to the state Senate.

• 1972: John Connolly, now an FBI agent, recognizes Salemme on the street in New York City and arrests him. Salemme is later sentenced to 15 years in prison. The arrest earns Connolly a transfer back to his hometown of Boston.

• 1974: Flemmi returns to Boston after criminal charges are dropped when several key witnesses recant. He hooks up with Winter, who counts Whitey Bulger among his key allies.

• June 1975: Edward Connors is killed by Flemmi to prevent him from telling authorities about an earlier murder by the Winter Hill Gang.

• September 1975: Acting partly on Flemmi's recommendation, Bulger cuts a deal with Connolly to provide information on the Italian Mafia in exchange for protection from the FBI.

• 1977: Veteran agent John Morris is appointed to oversee Connolly and his underworld informants.

• 1978: William Bulger becomes president of the state Senate and goes on to serve in the post longer than anyone in its history.

• 1979: After a former business associate implicates Whitey Bulger and Flemmi in a horse race-fixing scheme, FBI agents Connolly and Morris persuade federal prosecutors to leave the two out of the indictment. Twenty-one people are charged, including Howie Winter, whose conviction paves the way for Bulger and Flemmi to assume control of the Winter Hill Gang.

• November 1980: Bulger and Flemmi help the FBI plant a surveillance bug in the North End headquarters of Boston Mafia boss Gennaro Angiulo.

• May 1981: Roger Wheeler, the owner of World Jai Alai, a gambling enterprise from which Bulger and Flemmi have been skimming money, is shot between the eyes in the parking lot of his country club in Tulsa, Okla. The killer is Winter Hill Gang hitman John Martorano.

• Spring 1982: Bulger and Flemmi gun down a former henchman in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from telling about the Wheeler murder. Connolly files a report with the FBI saying rival gangsters made the hit.

• July 1982: Flemmi and Bulger order Martorano to kill John Callahan, the former president of World Jai Alai, to prevent him from telling investigators about the Jai Alai scheme.

• January 1995: Bulger disappears on the eve of his indictment on racketeering charges.

• 1997: The FBI, under court order, acknowledges that Bulger and Flemmi were "top echelon" informants as a federal probe into the agency's corrupt ties to its mob informants begins.

• May 2002: Connolly is convicted of racketeering for warning Bulger, Salemme and Flemmi that they were about to be indicted in January 1995.

• June 2003: William Bulger testifies before a congressional committee investigating the FBI's ties to mobster informants such as his brother. After receiving immunity, he acknowledged receiving a call from Whitey shortly after he fled, but said he has not heard from him since and has no idea where he is.

• August 2003: William Bulger resigns as president of the University of Massachusetts system amid growing pressure.

• 2005: Federal and state law enforcement officials investigate leads and Bulger look-alikes in at least 19 countries.

• 2006: Authorities release 26-year-old surveillance video of Bulger in the hope that someone will recognize his mannerisms.

• 2007: FBI releases video of a couple that resembles Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Grieg, in Italy.

• 2008: Connolly is convicted of second-degree murder in the hit on Martorano, as prosecutors argue the information he provide the mobsters was critical to the hit.

• 2010: FBI appeals to plastic surgeons in the effort to locate Bulger and Grieg.

• June 20, 2011: FBI announces an effort to target Grieg in the hopes of reaching Bulger.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

• June 22, 2011: Bulger arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., with Grieg.






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