Cops and Courts

Third man accused in Bulger murder pleads not guilty; trial set for mid-December

The last of 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 Wednesday afternoon 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.

Paul John DeCologero, aka “Pauly,” was present in the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled, accompanied by two U.S. Marshals and defense attorneys Patrick F. Nash, Willis Coffey, and Natalie J. Sal.  Prior to the start of the hearing, he appeared relaxed while casually talking with two unknown women in the audience. 

DeCologero, who was a member of the North Shore organized crime group, was already serving a 25-year sentence at the time of the murder.  For now, attorneys made no objections to him remaining incarcerated at the Hazelton facility where he is currently being held.

The other two men listed on the indictment , Fotios Geas, aka “Freddy,” and Sean McKinnon, have already appeared for their respective preliminary hearings in September.  

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.

The common allegation between DeCologero and the other two defendants is conspiracy to commit first degree murder.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, DeCologero and Geas have been charged with aiding and abetting first degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  Geas will also face a murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence charge.  McKinnon faces a separate charge of making false statements to a federal agent.

During Wednesday’s arraignment, DeCologero pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit first degree murder, aiding and abetting first degree murder, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Now that all three men have had their preliminary hearings, Judge Kleeh entered an initial scheduling order for the trial with jury selection to begin Dec. 13.

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.

If convicted, DeCologero will face up to five years incarceration for the conspiracy charge, 10 years for the assault charge, and death or life imprisonment for aiding and abetting first degree murder.