James “Whitey” Bulger, an FBI informer and one of Boston’s most notorious gangsters, died at a federal prison in West Virginia on Tuesday, the Department of Justice has confirmed. Bulger, 89, had been in custody at United States Penitentiary Hazelton since Monday; he had recently been relocated from a Florida prison.
Bulger was serving two life sentences for his crimes, including 11 murders. His dark life story inspired several movies, including Black Mass and The Departed, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2006. But Bulger’s story wasn’t just one of crime— it was also about an FBI so determined to take out the Mafia that it looked the other way as he broke the law.
60 Minutes covered Bulger’s story as he evaded arrest and became the FBI’s most wanted American fugitive. Here are some of those reports.
2013: “The Gaskos”
After nearly 16 years on the run, Bulger’s life of crime caught up with him in 2011. Two years later, correspondent Steve Kroft reported on how Bulger was able to hide in plain sight for so long.
As Kroft reported, Charlie and Carol Gasko were an elderly couple who moved to Santa Monica, Calif. sometime in early 1997. For the next 14 years, they did almost nothing remarkable, and would have been of no interest, if it weren’t for the fact that Charlie Gasko turned out to be Whitey Bulger. Carol Gasko was actually Catherine Greig, Bulger’s longtime girlfriend and caregiver.
In telling the couple’s shocking story of evasion, Kroft interviewed neighbors of the “Gaskos.” He also spoke with the federal agents who finally unraveled the case— with the help of a boob job and an alley cat.
2008: “The Executioner”
Prior to becoming a fugitive, Whitey Bulger had run Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, where John Martorano was one of the key players. For more than a decade, Martorano was the group’s chief executioner and one of the most feared men in Boston.
Martorano became a government witness in 1995, when he learned that his partners, Bulger and Stevie “the Rifleman” Flemmi, had broken their code of loyalty and become top-level FBI informants. In becoming a witness, Martorano confessed to 20 murders.
In 2008, Steve Kroft interviewed Martorano shortly after his release from prison, where he served only 12 years.
Bulger ruled the Boston neighborhood known as Southie for more than 25 years. At his right hand sat his trusted lieutenant and enforcer, Kevin Weeks, who spent nearly every day with the crime boss.
In 2006, correspondent Ed Bradley interviewed Weeks and asked him about his former mentor. Weeks described Bulger as a “disciplined” man, who dedicated his waking hours to the pursuit of crime. He didn’t enjoy alcohol, drugs, or gambling, Weeks said. Instead, Bulger found enjoyment and “stress relief” in the act of killing.
Bradley also interviewed Howie Carr, a columnist for the Boston Herald newspaper, whose efforts to expose Bulger and his gang almost led to his own murder.
2001: “The FBI & The Mob”
Six years after Whitey Bulger disappeared, authorities found the bodies of at least six people he allegedly killed. In 2001, Ed Bradley reported that members of the FBI may have actually helped Bulger perpetrate his crimes — including murder.
Robert Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, told Bradley the agency looked the other way while its informant, Bulger, committed crimes. Former FBI agent John Connolly was charged with complicity in Bulger’s criminal activities and alerting him to his imminent arrest.
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