One of the men charged with murdering James “Whitey” Bulger in a West Virginia prison claims that all inmates in his unit knew in advance that the notorious mobster was being transferred there.
Whitey Bulger was found beaten to death less than 12 hours after being transferred to USP Hazelton Federal Prison, one of the most violent penitentiaries in the nation.
“Everyone knew he was coming,” Sean McKinnon told NBC News in an exclusive phone interview from his current prison in Florida.
McKinnon is accused of standing watch while two other inmates entered Bulger’s cell and beat him to death with a padlock on the morning of October 30, 2018.
The mob boss was found by prison guards wrapped in blankets and posed to appear as if sleeping. He had been beaten to death and had become almost unrecognizable.
Prosecutors say McKinnon told his mother in a recorded phone call that he knew Bulger was being transferred to prison before he was transferred there, implying he had inside information that could have played a role. role in his murder.
McKinnon told NBC News that Bulger’s move to USP Hazelton was an open secret among inmates.
“I heard it from another inmate — not even one of the guys from Massachusetts,” he said. “It’s not like I got this secret news. I was just a fish in the sea.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has come under fire for the decision to place Bulger in general population at a penitentiary where two inmates had been killed in the previous six months.
It’s unclear why Bulger, who was 89 and a former FBI informant, was transferred to prison.
Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 55, Paul “Pauly” DeCologero, 48, and McKinnon, 36, were charged in August with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
In court last month, new details emerged about the timeline of the murder and some of the evidence believed to have linked the three suspects to the crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hannah Nowalk said the assassins of Bulger – a former mob hitman, mobster implicated in the murder and dismemberment of a 19-year-old girl and a convict with no known mob connection who was released from prison just three weeks ago – somehow learned in advance of his arrival at the prison.
Then, “as soon as they saw Bulger entering the unit, they planned to kill him,” she said.
After his death, the three suspects then allegedly confessed to carrying out the attack on other inmates in the dungeon.
The phone call between McKinnon and his mother was played in court, revealing that the inmate had advance knowledge of Bulger’s transfer to the penitentiary.
“We’re preparing to bring another, more well-known person here tonight,” McKinnon said on the call.
“No, I mean, you should know the name…Have you ever heard the name Whitey Bulger?” »
When McKinnon told his mother who the high-profile inmate was, his mother Cheryl Prevost urged him to stay away from him.
“Stay away from him, please,” she said.
McKinnon told his mother “Ah, I can’t”, saying that his cellmate Geas was “a henchman for a New York and Boston mob family”.
His mother warned him that “you’re in trouble,” to which he replied, “Don’t worry. Oh, I don’t foresee it.
The call was made around 3:30 p.m. on October 29, 2018 – about five hours before Bulger arrived at the jail at 8:30 p.m. that evening.
Ms Nowalk said the phone call proves the inmates were aware of Bulger’s impending arrival and immediately began plotting to kill him.