Fugitive mobster James “Whitey” Bulger is getting better with age, even as federal authorities say they’re refining their nearly 10-year hunt for the former Boston crime boss.
Bulger, 75, has made fewer mistakes in recent years. Early on, he made regular contact with associates, but a new detailed timeline of his odyssey shows he’s since isolated himself.
“He’s gotten better and better at it,” U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said at a news conference, where the timeline was released Tuesday.
Authorities say they’re as determined as ever to capture Bulger, who lived a double life as a ruthless gangster and an FBI informant before fleeing racketeering charges in January 1995. He’s also charged in connection with 21 murders.
‘Extremely bright, extremely devious’
“He’s extremely bright, extremely devious,” Sullivan said. “He’s very cunning. He prepared for a life as a fugitive.”
Bulger as early as 1986 opened a London bank account under an alias, “Thomas Baxter,” the timeline shows. The last confirmed sighting of Bulger was September 2002 in London. There’s credible information that Bulger has been spotted since then, but Sullivan wouldn’t say where or when.
Bulger remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, with a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.
His former FBI handler, former agent John J. Connolly Jr., tipped him off just before Christmas 1994 that he was about to be indicted.
The Boston FBI’s ties with Bulger have led to speculation that perhaps the FBI doesn’t want to catch him, but the head of the local office dismissed that Tuesday.
“There’s nothing that’s going to stand in my way to get this person caught,” said special agent Ken Kaiser. “Forget about the grand conspiracy theory that we’ve got something to hide, because we don’t.”
Bulger task force formed
The FBI, Sullivan’s office, and state police investigators combined their efforts in September, forming a single Bulger Task Force.
Investigators over the past decade have looked into Bulger sightings in about 30 nations and every continent but Antarctica. Most of the sightings, however, turned out to be false alarms.
Sullivan said they believe Bulger is traveling with companion Catherine Greig and that both are in good health.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, thrived for decades in Boston’s underworld as an informant. Connolly allowed Bulger to commit crimes in exchange for information that Connolly used to convict other mobsters.
Connolly was convicted in May 2002 of racketeering, obstruction of justice and making false statements. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence.