One of Whitey Bulger’s killers is sentenced to time served for being ‘lookout’ during famous mobster’s murder

The notorious mob boss was beaten to death in his West Virginia prison cell in 2018

Andrea Cavallier
Monday 17 June 2024 18:25 BST
Whitey Bulger: Infamous Boston gangster killed in West Virginia jail aged 89

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One of the three men accused of the 2018 prison killing of notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger has been sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to a charge of lying to federal agents.

Sean McKinnon, 38, wore shackles when he appeared in US District Court in Clarksburg, West Virginia, on Monday where he became the first of the trio to be sentenced for charges related to Bulger’s killing.

He was hugged by both of his attorneys after Judge Thomas Kleeh agreed with prosecutors’ recommendation that he be given credit for serving 22 months in custody after his indictment.

Prosecutors say that on October 30, 2018, McKinnon acted as the “lookout” while two fellow US Penitentiary Hazelton inmates - Fotios Geas and Paul J. DeCologero -bludgeoned the 89-year-old crime boss to death in his prison cell within hours of him being transferred to the facility.

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas, Sean McKinnon, and Paul ‘Pauly’ DeCologero (clockwise from top left). On Monday, McKinnon was sentenced for his role in Bulger’s death while McKinnon and DeCologero are set to be sentenced at a later date.
James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, Fotios ‘Freddy’ Geas, Sean McKinnon, and Paul ‘Pauly’ DeCologero (clockwise from top left). On Monday, McKinnon was sentenced for his role in Bulger’s death while McKinnon and DeCologero are set to be sentenced at a later date. (AP/Collier County Sheriff/Family handout)

DeCologero told a witness that Bulger was a “snitch” and that as soon as he came into their unit, they planned to kill him, prosecutors said. He also told an inmate that he and Geas used a belt with a lock attached to it to beat the former mob boss to death.

All three men were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, which carries up to a life sentence. Geas and DeCologero also are charged with first-degree murder, while McKinnon was also charged with making false statements to a federal agent.

The hearing on Monday comes after all three men struck binding plea agreements in May, nearly six years after Bulger’s fatal beating.

DeCologero is scheduled to appear in court on August 1 to enter a guilty plea and be sentenced. Geas is set to appear to enter his guilty plea and to be sentenced on September 6, according to court records. Last year, the Justice Department said it would not seek the death penalty for Geas and DeCologero.

It marks the latest chapter in the saga of the infamous mob boss who got away with murder for years while secretly working as an FBI informant providing information about local Mafia leaders.

Sean McKinnon is the first of the trio to be sentenced in Bulger’s killing
Sean McKinnon is the first of the trio to be sentenced in Bulger’s killing (Family handout)

Bulger, who ran the largely Irish mob in Boston in the 1970s and ’80s, became one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives after fleeing Boston in 1994. He would also pass on information to the FBI passing information about his competitors – though he reportedly denied this until the end of his life.

In 1994, a corrupt federal agent tipped him off that he was about to be arrested, and he went on the run.

After 16 years as a fugitive, he was finally captured in California at the age of 81, and in 2013 he was convicted for his role in 11 murders and various other crimes such as money laundering and extortion.

Five years later, Bulger was moved to a new prison in West Virginia and placed among the general population, despite reports from prison workers that it was understaffed and could not keep a lid on violence. Within hours, he was dead.

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