One of the three men indicted for their roles in the 2018 murder of James “Whitey” Bulger at the United States Penitentiary (USP) in Hazelton appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh for an arraignment hearing Friday in Clarksburg.
Bulger, who was known for being the leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, was found beaten to death in his cell at the prison less than a day after his transfer to the Preston County facility. He was 89 years old.
Fotios Geas, aka “Freddy,” one of the men accused of Bulger’s murder, was present in the courtroom Friday morning with his hands shackled, along with Defense Attorneys Nathan Chambers, Patrick Burkeand Belinda Haynie.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon S. Flower and Randolph J. Bernard are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI and the Bureau of Prisons Special Investigative Services investigated the murder.
Geas, a former hitman for the Genovese crime family based in New York, was already serving a life sentence at Hazelton prior to the murder.
Two other men, Paul J. Decologero, aka “Pauly,” and Sean McKinnon, are also defendants in the case and alleged co-conspirators of Geas – all three are accused of conspiracy to commit first degree murder.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, Geas and DeCologero have been charged with aiding and abetting first degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Geas faces a murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence charge alone. McKinnon also faces a separate charge of making false statements to a federal agent.
At Friday’s arraignment, Geas pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, one count aiding and abetting first degree murder, one count of murder by federal prisoner serving a life sentence, and one count assault resulting in serious bodily injury.
According to the indictment, while all three were incarcerated at USP Hazelton, Geas and Decologero struck famed mob boss Bulger in the head multiple times as McKinnon served as a lookout.
Judge Kleeh read aloud the maximum penalties Geas could face if convicted, which includes imprisonment for life or death for the aiding and abetting and murder by a federal prisoner charges as well as $250,000 fines for both.
The conspiracy charge could add an additional five years and $250,000 and the assault could tack on another 10 years and $250,000.
Kleeh set discovery and motion deadlines for the case and said a trial date would be set once all defendants listed on the indictment have been arraigned.
Information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said DeCologero is no longer being held at USP Hazelton but remains housed in the federal prison system. McKinnon was on federal supervised release at the time of the indictment and was arrested in Florida back in August.
For now, Geas remains in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
McKinnon was arraigned in the U.S. District court on Sept. 23 and Decologero is scheduled to appear on Oct. 26.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not have comment on today’s proceedings.
Defense attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.