prison inmate James “Whitey” Bulger According to transcripts of phone calls between one of the suspects and his mother, he knew ahead of time that a notorious gangster would be transferred there.
Sean McKinnon told his mother on Oct. 29, 2018, “Get ready to have another, higher-profile person here tonight,” according to a partial transcript of a phone call read in court Monday by federal prosecutors. I do,’ he said.
McKinnon identifies the arriving prisoner as former Boston crime boss Bulger.
According to prosecutors, his mother, Cheryl Prevost, responded, “Stay away from him.”
Prosecutors said the call was made at 3:30 p.m.
Bulger, 89, arrived at the Hazelton, West Virginia jail five hours later at 8:30 pm. He was found beaten to death at 8:07 am the next morning.
Bulger’s death was a stunning security failure for the federal prison system. A previously undisclosed revelation that an inmate at USP Hazelton was informed of Bulger’s arrival concerns the Federal Prison Service’s handling of his transfer to one of the country’s most violent prisons. raises additional questions.
“It’s ridiculous that this happened,” said Vito Maraviria, a former prison service investigator who determines where inmates should be placed within federal prisons for gang affiliation and other potential threats. I have been researching for over 20 years to find out.
Maraviria said that Bulger’s being placed in the general population of prisons like USP Hazelton would have “raised him to holy hell.”
Last week, the Justice Department announced charges against McKinnon, 36, and two men from Massachusetts, Massachusetts. Mafia hitman Photios “Freddy” Geass, 55, who shared a cell with McKinnon, and Paul his de Cologello, 48, who was a member of McKinnon. An organized crime group led by his uncle.
At McKinnon’s detention hearing on Monday, prosecutors described what the surveillance system caught inside the prison, providing the most detailed account yet of the circumstances surrounding Bulger’s murder.
The three suspects met in Geass and McKinnon’s cell shortly after the unit’s cell door opened at 6:00 am. After six minutes, all three walked away, according to prosecutor Hannah Norwalk.
De Cologero and Geass enter Bulger’s cell. Norwalk said McKinnon was sitting at a table looking out over his cell and the police station.
DeCologero and Geas remained in Bulger’s cell for seven minutes. All three returned to Geass and McKinnon’s cell after they left at 6:13 a.m., according to Norwalk.
She said the government’s claims were corroborated by three detention center informants. One of them, her DeCologero, who passed by Paulie, told him Bulger was a snitch, Nowalk says. Bulger acted as an informant for the FBI while leading a mostly Irish mob in Boston from the 1970s through his early 1990s.
According to minutes obtained by NBC News, “Paulley said as soon as he saw Bulger coming into the unit, he planned to kill him,” Norwalk said at the hearing. , Pauley told this inmate witness that Sean McKinnon was a lookout.”
According to Nowalk, DeCologero also states that he and Geas used “a belt with a lock attached” to beat Bulger. many news outlets, Including NBC Newshad previously reported that a man is believed to have murdered Bulger using a lock stuffed inside his sock.
Geas, DeCologero, and McKinnon were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and other crimes. Geas and DeCologero were also charged with assisting in first-degree murder and assault that caused serious injury.McKinnon previously told NBC News he had nothing to do with murderwas charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
At McKinnon’s court hearing, prosecutors said phone calls between McKinnon and his mother showed Bulger knew ahead of time that he was coming to prison.
McKinnon’s attorney said phone records revealed that McKinnon wasn’t the only person aware of Bulger’s imminent arrival.
Lawyer Christine Byrd said: “The whole unit has been warned that Whitey Bulger is coming to the unit.
Maraviria, a former prison investigator, said it is not uncommon for inmates in detention facilities to know about new arrivals in advance. I often check to make sure it isn’t.
News of the arrival of a prominent inmate may also have leaked to officials. However, Maraviria believes it is unlikely that it was done intentionally to harm Mr. Bulger.
“It’s probably incompetence,” said Maraviria. “We have a lot of incompetent people in the Bureau of Prisons.”
The Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how McKinnon and the other prisoners knew Bulger was being transferred to their facility.