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Watchdog probes allegation FBI ignored evidence during pursuit of 'Whitey' Bulger

Watchdog group Empower Oversight says FBI didn't follow up on attempted gun sale involving Bulger, who at the time was an agency most wanted fugitive

Published: August 19, 2022 5:44pm

Updated: August 19, 2022 6:19pm

Following the announcement that three men now face charges in the 2018 prison killing of Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, a watchdog group is seeking information related to an allegation that the FBI ignored evidence that would have led to his swift arrest while one of the Bureau's most wanted fugitives.

Fotios "Freddy" Geas, Paul J. DeCologero, and Sean McKinnon were charged Thursday with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Bulger, a known FBI informant, was incarcerated with the general prison population and received no additional protection. His family has sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons and 30 employees of ASP Hazleton, the prison in which he died, for failing to protect him.

While Bulger was on the lamb, "Sergeant Gary M. Steiner of the City of Santa Monica Police Department witnessed the attempted sale of a firearm with the serial numbers removed and allegedly related to Bulger at Oaktree Gun Club in Los Angeles," wrote Watchdog group Empower Oversight, citing a tip the group received.

"Steiner ensured that this potential lead related to an FBI most wanted fugitive was reported to the FBI. However, the FBI refused to follow up to obtain and examine the firearm," the watchdog asserted in a press release.

Empower Oversight has filed FOIA requests to both the FBI and the Department of Justice seeking information on Steiner's efforts to report the evidence.

Bulger ran the Irish mob in Boston during  the 1970s and 19870s during which time he acted as an FBI informant, sending law enforcement tips about his rivals' activities.

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