Published 8:54 AM EDT Sep 24, 2019
The family of notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger is filing a wrongful death claim against the federal government following his death in prison last year.
The family is seeking $200 million in damages in the forthcoming claim, however, assures that there’s no expectation of financial gain as Bulger’s estate “is encumbered by millions of dollars in judgments,” attorney Hank Brennan told USA TODAY Tuesday.
“This action is the only meaningful avenue to learn the truth and hold accountable each and every government employee who is responsible for the murder of an 89 year-old wheelchair bound man in the Bureau of Prisons’ custody,” Brennan said.
The family said in a statement that the 89-year-old man was “deliberately placed in harm’s way” when he was transferred to a West Virginia prison and placed in the general inmate population hours before his death.
“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,” they continued to say in the statement.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
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Bulger died a little more than 12 hours after arriving to the U.S. Penitentiary in Hazelton, West Virginia. Bulger was found dead in his cell about 8:20 a.m. Oct. 30 ET by two officers after it was noted that the elderly inmate had not arrived for breakfast.
Finding Bulger in his bunk wrapped in covers, the officers initially believed the inmate to be sleeping. When Bulger did not respond to their presence, the officers removed his bed wrap to reveal a bloodied and severely beaten face and upper body.
No charges have been filed, but officials have said two Massachusetts mobsters are suspects.
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Known as one of the nation’s most notorious criminals and fugitives, Bulger – nicknamed “Whitey” for his bright platinum hair – was the head of a violent South Boston crime ring known as the Winter Hill Gang from the 1970s into the 1990s.
In December 1994, Bulger was tipped off about his imminent indictment by an FBI agent and escaped. He remained on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list until he was apprehended in 2011 in Santa Monica, California.
Bulger was sentenced to life in prison for his role in 11 gangland killings.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.