TULSA, Okla. — James “Whitey” Bulger is an infamous name in American history.
Bulger, a former mobster, has been linked to dozens of crimes across the United States, including the murder of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler. Bulger was sentenced to prison nine years ago, but the 89-year-old was beaten to death in prison in 2018.
Five years later, three men have been indicted for Bulger’s murder. Two of them were already in prison.
55-year-old Freddy Geas, 48-year-old Paul J. Decologero, and 36-year-old Sean McKinnon have been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Prosecutors say Geas and Decologero hit Bulger in the head multiple times, killing him. It happened just hours after Bulger was transferred to a maximum federal prison in West Virginia.
Many ask why it took so long for the men to be charged. “When you have city video footage, and virtually every corner of a prison complex, it’s not too difficult to put things together circumstantially,” said former federal prosecutor Brad Bailey. “So why four years? Who knows. I mean, COVID certainly played a part in every slowdown of an investigation.”
Bulger ran a crime ring in the 1970s and 1980s, and was involved in Roger Wheeler’s murder. Wheeler uncovered that the mob was embezzling money from one of his companies.
Wheeler was shot and killed while sitting in his car at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club. Wheeler was one of 11 people Bulger was convicted of killing.
Bulger was also convicted on extortion and money laundering charges. He was handed two life sentences, plus five years. The assistant U.S. Attorney called the convicted mobster “a little sociopath” who caused a “grotesques” amount of carnage.
Bulger refused to testify on his behalf. He also refused to look anyone directly in the eye, including Wheeler’s son, David.
“He’s a coward,” said David Wheeler. “It did feel good to describe him for what he is. A bag of jailhouse rags, placed on cold steel. I hope he enjoys every day of his retirement in there.”
David and other victims’ families said the FBI never had to answer for its corrupt role. Bulger served as an FBI informant for spending 16 years as one of America’s most wanted men.
“The FBI protected him, they have supervised him, and without the FBI, my father would be alive today,” said David.
When Bulger was killed, it closed a painful chapter for many families of his victims who said the news of his murder came as a relief.
As for Geas and Decologero, they have also been charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Both men could face life in prison or the death penalty.
McKinnon was on federal supervised release at the time of the indictment, and was arrested in Florida last month.
When Roger Wheeler’s murder was investigated, the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office made an agreement with the FBI, saying that if Bulger was ever released from federal prison, he would be tried in Tulsa for Wheeler’s murder.
Now, that case is closed.
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