Apparently, we're not the only ones who believe the circumstance surrounding Whitey Bulger's jailhouse slaying are suspect in the extreme. First, that federal authorities would abruptly move an 89-year-old inmate in ill health to a new maximum security prison seemingly on a whim seemed odd. But the fact that Bulger was placed in general population instead of protective custody was either an act of staggering incompetence, or, more likely, an intentional 'oversight'. And now, an ex-con-turned-journalist told the New York Post in an interview that he also believes the killing was a set-up probably planned by federal authorities to get rid of a problem witness.
As Richard Stratton told the Post, the guards at Hazelton prison almost certainly looked the other way as a trio of inmates purportedly led by New England mafia enforcer Freddy Geas fatally beat Bulger to death in a secluded corner of the prison. His attackers then tried to gouge out his eyes and cut out his tongue - an old-school marking that the victim was a 'rat'. High ranking federal officials probably sent Bulger there "to get rid of him," Stratton said.
"It just seems impossible to me that this could have happened without awareness, not only at the level of the guards on the tier," writer and producer Richard Stratton said.
Stratton said the notion that Bulger wasn't in protective custody is baffling considering that two inmates had recently been killed at the prison.
"He’s going to be exposed in a way where he can easily be killed, and then one day later he’s murdered," Stratton said.
Stratton, who helped produce an HBO documentary about prison murders, pointed out that Bulger had been transferred from an Arizona facility in 2014 after having an "improper relationship" with a prison psychologist.
Though it's worth noting that Stratton might be conflicted in his assessment: Bulger once helped him quash a life-threatening beef when he was running drugs in Massachusetts back in the day.
Stratton, a former drug smuggler who served eight years in federal prison, said he once sought help from Bulger when the Mafia tried to muscle in on a scam in which he was sneaking hashish from Lebanon through Boston’s Logan Airport.
After refusing to cough up $1 million and half of whatever drugs he brought into the US, "I heard they put out a contract on me," said Stratton, who also recounted the episode in his 2016 memoir, "Smuggler’s Blues: A True Story of the Hippie Mafia."
"I went to Whitey and Whitey squashed the whole thing," he said.
"Then I had to move a load of pot for him."
Still, Stratton's not the only one who suspects that federal authorities at least tacitly condoned Bulger's killing. The Daily Mail suggested that Bulger may have been on the verge of cooperating with the staff of a Massachusetts Congressman hoping to expose abuses from inside the FBI.