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US Faces Suit Over Mobster's Death

Family seeks answers on Whitey Bulger's transfer to prison where he was killed
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2019 5:25 PM CDT
James "Whitey" Bulger, right, is escorted to a vehicle at a Massachusetts airport in 2011. He was kill in October 2018 in prison.   (Stuart Cahill/The Boston Herald via AP, File)

(Newser) – The family of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, who was beaten to death in federal prison last year, is filing a wrongful death claim against the government. The family said the goal is to learn why Bulger was placed in the prison's general population instead of a prison medical facility, the Wall Street Journal reports. The 89-year-old inmate, who was in poor health, was killed within 24 hours of his arrival. "We believe that James Bulger was deliberately placed in harm's way," his family said in a statement. "There is simply no other explanation for the transfer of someone in his condition and inmate status to be placed in the general population of one of the country’s most violent federal penitentiaries.” The claim is the first step toward a $200 million lawsuit; the family said it doesn't expect to have anything left after civil awards and restitution orders in effect against Bulger are paid.

The Bureau of Prisons had no comment Friday other than to say Bulger's death is still being investigated. Officials said in the past that Bulger was moved from a Florida prison to Hazelton, in West Virginia, because he'd threatened a prison employee. Another explanation was that Bulger may have been killed because he'd been an FBI informant, which he denied. They had also said the transfer was standard procedure. The brother of one of Bulger's reported victims said Friday that he'll fight the family for the restitution. "The guy was evil, what do they have to gain?" he said, per the Herald. "I'm glad he got it the way he did. That's the way he gave it." (Read more Whitey Bulger stories.)

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