Inmates at the West Virginia prison where James “Whitey” Bulger was battered to death were tipped off that he was coming — allowing Mafia hitmen to corner the known snitch just six minutes after his cell was unlocked on his first morning there, according to a startling new timeline.
Hours before the once-feared Boston gang leader arrived at USP Hazelton on Oct. 29, 2018, accused lookout Sean McKinnon bragged about it in a call to his mom, according to new court testimony.
“You should know the name . . . Whitey Bulger,” he allegedly bragged in the call recorded by prison officials, according to the Boston Globe.
“Oh Jesus … Stay away from him please,” McKinnon’s mom, Cheryl Prevost, reportedly replied about Bulger, saying she hoped the murderous mob boss would be kept away from other inmates.
“Ah, I can’t,” said McKinnon said, detailing how his cellmate was “a henchman for a mob family out of New York and Boston” — and that everyone in their unit knew Bulger, 89, was coming.
That call was at 3:30 p.m., five hours before Bulger arrived at the troubled prison that is widely known as “Misery Mountain,” according to a new, detailed timeline provided at a 70-minute Florida court hearing Monday that ended with McKinnon back behind bars.
Despite being a known FBI “snitch,” Bulger had answered “no” when asked if there were any reasons he should be kept out of the general population, according to an intake screening form he signed.
He was escorted in his wheelchair to cell 132 soon after 8:30 p.m., according to the Globe’s timeline. It was not clear if other prisoners saw him that night.
However, at 5 a.m. the next morning, McKinnon had a meeting with his cellmate, Mafia hitman Fotios “Freddy” Geas, as well as another inmate, Paul DeCologero, whose uncle heads a Massachusetts’ organized crime gang.
All the unit’s cell doors were opened at 6 a.m., allowing inmates to walk free.
Just six minutes later, Geas and DeCologero were filmed entering Bulger’s cell, where they stayed for at least seven minutes, the court testimony said.
They left at 6:13 a.m., but prison authorities did not discover the brutally beaten body of their high-profile new arrival for nearly two hours, Monday’s hearing was told.
Geas and DeCologero readily admitted to another inmate that they were the killers, Assistant US Attorney Hannah Nowalk told the hearing.
DeCologero “told him that Bulger was a snitch … Pauly said as soon as they saw Bulger come into the unit, they planned to kill him,” Nowalk said.
They “used a belt with a lock attached to it and beat Mr. Bulger to death.” the prosecutor said.
Officials have yet to explain how the inmates knew of Bulger’s arrival, nor why the known FBI informant was put in general population.
McKinnon is accused of being the hitmen’s lookout. He had been on supervised release when he was arrested last week in Florida on charges including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. He is charged separately with making false statements to a federal agent.
An attorney for McKinnon insisted that his call to his mom just showed he knew Bulger was coming, not that he was connected to his murder.
“The fact that his roommate was a henchman has nothing to do with him. He didn’t select his roommate,” defense attorney Christine Bird insisted.
The call to his mom “doesn’t really tell the Court that he was involved in the conspiracy” because “the entire unit was alerted that Whitey Bulger was coming,” Bird insisted.
Judge Philip Lammens ordered McKinnon to remain locked up until trial, calling him a risk of flight and danger to the community.
Geas and DeCologero were charged in West Virginia federal court with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Geas faces a separate charge of murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence. Both were already behind bars.
Gea is a convicted Mafia hitman. He and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 killing of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a Genovese crime family boss in Springfield, Massachusetts.
DeCologero was in his uncle’s organized crime gang. He was convicted of buying heroin that was used to try to kill a teenage girl his uncle wanted dead because he feared she would betray the crew to police.
The heroin didn’t kill her, so another man broke her neck, dismembered her and buried her remains in the woods, court records say.
Bulger, who ran the largely Irish mob in Boston in the 1970s and ’80s, served as an FBI informant who ratted on his gang’s main rival, according to the bureau. He later became one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives.
With Post wires