Crime and Justice

Former Montpelier man among 3 people charged in prison slaying of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger

James "Whitey" Bulger in 2011. Police photograph

Updated Aug. 19 at 2:16 p.m.

A former Montpelier resident charged in connection with the slaying of James “Whitey” Bulger “acted as a lookout” as two other incarcerated men beat to death the notorious organized crime leader from South Boston, prosecutors alleged in court documents unsealed Friday morning. 

Sean McKinnon, 36, was indicted this week along with Fotios Geas, 55, and Paul J. DeCologero, 48, on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in Bulger’s death, according to a press release Thursday from federal prosecutors in West Virginia.

Bulger was 89 when he was found dead in October 2018 at United States Penitentiary Hazelton, a federal prison in that state. McKinnon, Geas and DeCologero were also incarcerated there.

Geas and DeCologero are accused of striking Bulger in the head several times and causing his death, according to the press release.

Geas and DeCologero, who were both from Massachusetts, have also been charged with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, as well as assault resulting in serious bodily injury, according to the release. McKinnon faces a separate charge of making false statements to a federal agent.

The press release did not indicate exactly how prosecutors believe McKinnon contributed to Bulger’s death, though court records unsealed Friday morning following McKinnon’s arrest Thursday offered more details. 

According to the charging documents, McKinnon “acted as a lookout” for Geas and DeCologero.

McKinnon also made “fictitious, fraudulent statements and representations” to an FBI agent about what happened to Bulger, saying he spoke with Geas and DeCologero on the morning of the slaying but that he did not discuss Bulger with them, according to the court documents.

McKinnon, according to the filing, allegedly knew at that time that Geas and DeCologero had assaulted and murdered Bulger and had “met with and discussed the assault and murder” with both of men.

McKinnon was among several people in custody at the prison who were placed in isolation following Bulger’s killing. 

Both Geas and DeCologero have remained in prison since Bulger's death, prosecutors wrote, while McKinnon had since been freed on federal supervised release and was arrested Thursday in Florida.  

McKinnon was living in Ocala, Florida, at the time of his arrest, according to a report Thursday evening from McKinnon is being held in custody with a hearing set for Monday morning in federal court in Florida.

McKinnon was convicted of stealing 12 handguns from a R&L Archery in Barre and trading them to another person for heroin. He was sentenced in January 2016 to eight years in prison.

Bulger, who was in a wheelchair, was found dead the morning after being transferred to Hazelton in October 2018. He had been on the run for 16 years before he was captured and sentenced to life in prison in 2013 for 11 murders and other offenses.

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