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Brother of ‘Whitey’ Bulger Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Bureau of Federal Prisons

James “Whitey” Bulger

By Steve Neavling

The brother of James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against 30 unnamed prison employees, alleging they failed to protect the notorious crime boss while he was behind bars.

Bulger was beaten to death inside his cell at the Hazelton federal prison in West Virginia on Oct. 30, 2018, shortly after he was transferred from a prison in Florida. 

William Bulger alleges in the lawsuit that the Bureau of Federal Prisons is responsible for his brother’s death because it transferred Bulger from a prison where he was protected to one where he was not. 

“[O]nce James Bulger Jr. was in the custody of USP Hazelton, these defendants exposed him to other inmates even though they knew or should have known that such exposure would result in an attack on James Bulger Jr. by one or more inmates and would result in his serious injury or death,” the lawsuit states, according to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The lawsuit claims the employees violated Bulger’s Eighth Amendment Rights, which provides protections against cruel and unusual punishment, by failing to protect him. 

“Predictably, within hours of his placement in general population at Hazelton, inmates believed to be from New England and who are alleged to have Mafia ties or loyalties, killed James Bulger Jr. utilizing methods that included the use of a lock in a sock-type weapon,” the lawsuit reads.

The Bureau of Federal Prisons declined to comment. 

In a statement, the Bulger family said the government has failed to provide them with information about the investigation into his death or transfer. 

“The family of Mr. Bulger have pursued this action in an attempt to learn what happened to their loved one, demand transparency and accountability of persons employed by the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons who may be responsible for Mr. Bulger’s death, and the hope that this action may provide some meaningful reform in the federal penal system and assist other families and residents of federal prisons who have unfairly suffered inappropriate conditions of incarceration,” the family said.

Bulger, who was #1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, evaded capture for nearly two decades and was ultimately captured through the relentless efforts of federal agents. The leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, he was indicted on 19 counts of murder, racketeering, narcotics distribution and extortion.


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