CRIME

Mobster James Bulger captured after 16 years on the run

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The government has connected Bulger to a series of ruthless killings. One victim was shot between the eyes in a parking lot at his country club in Oklahoma. Another was gunned down in broad daylight on a South Boston street to prevent him from talking about the killing in Oklahoma.

James "Whitey" Bulger. 1953 mug shot: Boston Police

Others were taken out for running afoul of Bulger's gambling enterprises.

He fled in January 1995 after being tipped by a former Boston FBI agent that he was about to be indicted. Bulger himself was a top-echelon FBI informant.

Prosecutors said he went on the run after being warned by John Connolly Jr., an FBI agent who had made Bulger an FBI informant 20 years earlier.

Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May 2002 for protecting Bulger and Flemmi, also an FBI informant.

Bulger provided the Boston FBI with information on his gang's main rival, the New England Mob, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was one of the FBI's top national priorities.

But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticized when the extent of Bulger's alleged crimes and his cozy relationship with the FBI became public in the late 1990s.

After he fled, Bulger became one of the nation's most-hunted fugitives. With a place next to Osama bin Laden on the "Ten Most Wanted" list, he had a $2 million reward on his head.

In September 2002, the FBI received the most reliable tip in three years when a British businessman who had met Bulger eight years earlier said he spotted Bulger on a London street.

After the sighting, the FBI's multiagency violent fugitive task force in Boston and inspectors from New Scotland Yard scoured London hotels, Internet cafes and gyms in search of Bulger. The FBI also released an updated sketch, using the businessman's description of Bulger as tan, white-haired and sporting a gray goatee.

On Monday, the FBI announced a new publicity campaign and accompanying public service ad that asked people, particularly women, to be on the lookout for Greig. The 30-second ad started running Tuesday in 14 television markets to which Bulger may have ties and was to air during programs popular with women roughly Greig's age.

The new campaign pointed out that Greig had several plastic surgeries before going on the lam and was known to frequent beauty salons.

John Weiskopf, who lives across the street from Bulger's Santa Monica building, said he recognized Bulger when he saw his photo on the Internet.

"I recognized him. I said `Holy Smokes,"' he said.

"From what I understand, these were really gracious easy-going people," Weiskopf said. "They don't come out with fangs, they just blended in."

For many years, William Bulger was able to avoid any tarnish from his brother's alleged crimes. But in August 2003, he resigned his post as president of UMass amid pressure from then-Gov. Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas Reilly.

His resignation came two months after he testified about his brother before a congressional committee.

The committee, in a draft report issued in 2003, blasted the FBI for its use of Bulger and other criminals as informants, calling it "one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement."

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Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Risling also reported from Los Angeles.

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