Feature Articles

April 2002

Boston mob boss may be hiding in Canada

James 'Whitey' Bulger

By Gary Dimmock

Gary Dimmock is an investigative reporter for The Ottawa Citizen, Canada's capital newspaper, and host of In the past 10 years, investigative reporter Gary Dimmock has uncovered evidence that has re-opened old murder cases, tracked down killers who have gone unpunished at home and abroad, and proved the innocence of three men condemned to prison for life.
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  •      Before Irish mob boss James (Whitey) Bulger went into hiding in 1995, the ruthless Boston gangster secretly arranged to have untold millions of dollars stored in safety-deposit boxes in Ontario and Quebec, according to FBI intelligence.

         FBI intelligence also shows that the 71-year-old crime boss arranged for the deposits in haste, then skipped town days before a federal indictment on 18 counts of murder and numerous charges of extortion, drug-running and money laundering.

         FBI agents tracking Mr. Bulger believe he may have followed his money into Canada and assumed a new identity.

         FBI agents say the trail of money, his links to Montreal, and our country's revered health care system are solid reasons to believe Mr. Bulger, now on heart medication, is hiding out in Canada.

         ``Those are the points in the investigation, plus the Canadian border is easy to get past,'' said special agent Gail Marcinkiewicz of the FBI's Boston office.

         ``There have also been unconfirmed sightings in Ontario and Montreal,'' the special agent said.

         The FBI has posted a $1-million U.S. reward for the capture of Mr. Bulger, who is on the 10 most-wanted list. The FBI's exclusive, $1-million reward club includes terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

         Mr. Bulger is considered armed and violent. His weapon of choice is a knife and FBI agents say he doesn't think twice about pulling it.Mr. Bulger is believed to be travelling with his girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, who is facing charges of harbouring a federal fugitive.Neither the FBI agents nor the RCMP has recovered money Mr. Bulger is believed to have stored in safety-deposit boxes in Ontario and Quebec.

         The FBI says Mr. Bulger enlisted a trusted few to help stash his money in Canada.

         In the massive hunt for the crime boss, FBI agents are now preparing to print Wanted posters in French to be distributed in Quebec. A newly unveiled FBI poster lists Mr. Bulger's most recent possible alias as ``Mark Shapeton.

         ''Mr. Bulger, described as violent and cunning, has eluded special agents for the past five years. He has reportedly been spotted in New York City, Florida, Iowa and most recently in California.

         Mr. Bulger and his on-the-run girlfriend are fond of long walks and visits to animal shelters.

         From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, Mr. Bulger and his chief lieutenant, Stevie (The Rifleman) Flemmi controlled organized crime in New England.

         Mr. Flemmi is awaiting trial in a New York prison. FBI agents say Mr. Flemmi has close ties to Montreal's West End Gang, a group of anglophone criminals who control guns and drugs in the port city.

         To many in Southie, a tough, Irish-American Boston neighbourhood, Whitey Bulger is a legend. Those who don't know him personally know someone who does. Everyone knows about him.

         The eldest brother of state Senator William Bulger, who is now the president of the University of Massachusetts, quickly climbed the ranks of organized crime after earning a reputation as a cold-hearted enforcer.

         According to the FBI, Mr. Bulger sold guns to the IRA, controlled Boston's drug network and bookmaking, and masterminded bank heists.The reputed mob boss based the multi-million-dollar crime business at South Boston Liquor Mart.Mr. Bulger, who served time in Alcatraz for bank robbery, always managed to keep one step ahead of the law.

         In one of his most recent alleged crimes, Mr. Bulger is accused of extorting untold millions of dollars from loan sharks and bookmakers.

         Then, just days before a massive federal indictment, Mr. Bulger fled Boston undetected.

         It was not until recently that the public learned how Mr. Bulger managed to keep ahead of the law at every turn.In a move that some say protected him from the law, Mr. Bulger led a double life, working as both Irish mob boss and prized FBI informant.Some of Mr. Bulger's crime associates have testified that his FBI informant status granted the Irish mob a licence to take care of business.

         In fact, an FBI agent has since been accused of tipping off Mr. Bulger about the 1995 indictment, allowing the crime boss to stash away money and go into hiding.

         The FBI has received more than 1,500 tips since Mr. Bulger fled.

         And the FBI has been using some of Mr. Bulger's own money to track him down.In 1991, Mr. Bulger and three of his friends cashed in a Massachusetts Lottery ticket worth $14 million U.S. After they were paid instalments worth $1.9 million, the United States Attorney's Office defaulted all future payments from the lottery in 1996.

         A 1996 federal investigation revealed that Mr. Bulger had paid the real lottery winner $2 million for an annual share of the winnings in an after-the-win scheme to launder dirty money.

         ``Instead of supporting a fugitive from justice, this $1.9 million will now be supporting the fight against crime. Wherever Whitey Bulger is, I hope he hears that now his own criminal proceeds are helping us to find him and bring him to trial,'' U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern said at the time.

         Mr. Bulger, a.k.a. Thomas F. Baxter, Mark Shapeton, Jimmy Bulger, James Joseph Bulger, James J. Bulger Jr., Tom Harris, Tom Marshall, and Whitey, has been known to disguise himself.

         Mr. Bulger, who carries a knife at all times, has reported underworld links ranging from Montreal's West End Gang to the Las Vegas Mafia.

         The reputed crime boss has travelled extensively throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and Canada.Born in Boston on Sept. 3, 1929, Mr. Bulger is described as a white male, five feet, seven inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with silver hair and blue eyes.

         His on-the-run girlfriend, Ms. Greig, is described as a white female, five feet, six inches tall, weighing 130 to 150 pounds, with a thin build, dyed blond hair and blue eyes.

         Ms. Greig is known to frequent beauty salons.And for now, Mr. Bulger remains at large.

         The life of the crime boss has inspired a new book, called Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI, and a Devil's Deal. The book, written by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, concludes with the following paragraph:``By the end of 1999 the dark history of the FBI and Bulger may have been revealed. It was all there in 17,000 pages of sworn testimony, Judge Mark L. Wolf's 661-page ruling, and a fresh round of sensational criminal indictments. But none of those historic records contained the one answer a bedeviled city was still dying to know: Where's Whitey?''

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