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3 inmates agree to plea deal in the killing of mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It was a shocking end to an infamous life. Three men were accused in the 2018 killing of crime boss James Whitey Bulger - of beating him to death while they were all in prison together. They have now reached plea deals. Two of the men were accused of beating Bulger while the other allegedly served as a lookout. Bulger cut a terrifying figure on the streets of South Boston for more than two decades and became an FBI informant. For more on this, I'm joined by Rich Schapiro. He's an investigative reporter for NBC News who's covered this story. Good morning.

RICH SCHAPIRO: Good morning.

MARTIN: So could you just start by reminding people of who Whitey Bulger is, or rather who he was?

SCHAPIRO: Sure. He was one of America's most notorious criminal figures, certainly of the last 50 years. He ran the Irish mob in South Boston for decades. And he was known to be clever and also ruthless. He wasn't one of these leaders who just ordered hits. He actually killed people with his own hands as well, according to prosecutors. And just as the federal agents were closing in on him in 1994, he disappeared. And he remained on the run for some 16 years until he was finally captured. And he was living in a beachside condo in California.

MARTIN: Yeah. Living this really kind of chill, quiet life. So let's - take us back to how he was killed in 2018. How could he be bludgeoned to death in his cell without guards taking notice? And I want to point out this was just, like, literally hours after he arrived, you know, at that unit. So how could that happen?

SCHAPIRO: That's right. He arrived at this West Virginia prison that was known to be an extremely violent place. And he was also placed in a housing unit where there were rival gangsters from Massachusetts. And what we know is that as soon as the cell doors opened on the morning after he arrived, two inmates allegedly went right into his cell, moved him into a corner where there was no camera footage and proceeded to brutally bludgeon him to death with a lock in a sock.

MARTIN: So what can you tell us about the three men who are accused of killing him? As I said, you know, two were accused of actually doing the beating, one of serving as a lookout. What do we know about them? And what do we know about the plea deal?

SCHAPIRO: Yeah. So two of the guys were former Massachusetts gangsters. One was named Fotios "Freddy" Geas. He was a hit man for the Italian mob. The other is a man named Paul DeCologero. And they are the ones who are accused of actually doing the killing. And then there is a third man whose name is Sean McKinnon. He has no affiliation with organized crime or with Massachusetts, but he was the cellmate of Freddie Geas. And prosecutors alleged that he acted as a lookout as they carried out the killing.

MARTIN: OK. What do we know about the plea deal?

SCHAPIRO: We don't know much at this point. We - there was a court filing on Monday from federal prosecutors that said that a deal had been reached and that these three guys have agreed to cooperate with the government. And they're apparently going to explain the circumstances of Bulger's killing. But beyond that, it's not clear exactly what they have pleaded to and how the case will proceed from there.

MARTIN: It just - several movies and TV shows inspired by this person. I mean, it just - it all sounds like a movie. That's Rich Schapiro. He's an investigative reporter for NBC News, and you can read more of his reporting on nbcnews.com. Rich, thank you.

SCHAPIRO: Sure. Thank you very much.

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