Joe Bruno on the Mob – Man Says FBI Screwed Him Out of $2 Million Reward For Bulger Capture

If I were Keith Messina, I’d be pissed at the FBI too.

In 2008, a full three years before Boston mob boss/FBI informant Whitey Bulger was found in Santa Monica, California, Messina ran across Bulger on the pier in Santa Monica, just three blocks from where Bulger was arrested with his girlfriend Catherine Greig in early 2011.

Messina was vacationing in Sana Monica with his wife and three children, when he spotted a tanned, shirtless elderly man, dressed in shorts, sporting a gold necklace, and holding a book, leaning against a post on the pier. Messina was wearing a Boston Celtic jersey, and as he passed, Messina said the elderly man yelled at him, “Where are you from, Boston? (Why Bulger, who was supposed to be in hiding, would start a conversation with a stranger in Santa Monica, is hard to believe., but apparently true.)

The two men allegedly started talking Boston sports, and when Messina left, he realized he had been talking to Whitey Bulger, a man wanted by the FBI for 13 years at the time. Messina immediately called a tip into Fox’s America’s Most Wanted, and was assured the tip was passed on to the FBI. But Messina never heard from the FBI, and was startled to find out Bulger had been arrested in 2011, exactly where Messina had told America’s Most Wanted Bulger could be found.

When Messina contacted the FBI for the $2 million reward, he was told that someone from Iceland had provided them the tip in 2011, after they had watched a TV advertisement, paid for by the FBI with taxpayers money, targeting Greig, rather than Bulger. The FBI said that the unidentified person, allegedly a lady who had met Greig in Santa Monica, had already been paid the money Messina thought was rightfully his.

“They would have caught him years ago but nobody called me in regards to my tip,” Messina said during a telephone interview with The Boston Globe.

So if Messina is telling the truth, and nobody seems to be contradicting him, the FBI spent millions of taxpayer money for three years, when they could have found Bulger when Messina first contacted America’s Most Wanted in 2008.

Someone once told me the F-B-I stood for “Famous But Incompetent.” I’m starting to believe that might not be far from the truth.

The article below can be found at:

FBI paid $2 million reward to tipster for Bulger’s capture, says Las Vegas man
The FBI has quietly paid an unidentified tipster the $2 million reward for information that led to the capture of fugitive gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, in June in Santa Monica, Calif., according to a man who tried to claim the money.
The FBI has promised confidentiality to the tipster, who has been identified by law enforcement officials as a woman in Iceland, and refused to comment today on the reward.
But a Las Vegas man, who was seeking all or part of the reward, said today that the FBI notified him that his claim had been denied and the money had already been paid to someone else.

“They said they already paid it … They were writing the check out,’’ said Keith Messina, 45, who called America’s Most Wanted in 2008 to report he had spotted Bulger, one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, on the Santa Monica Pier. “The feds are saying we want to hide whoever it is [who got the money]. What’s there to hide?’’

A spokesman at FBI headquarters said, “We’ve been told to refer any calls about the reward to the US Attorney’s office.’’
“At this time, we cannot discuss any details about the reward, including whether or not it was paid and to whom. The FBI was clear from the beginning that protecting the identity of the tipster was paramount, and information related to the reward will be released if and when the time is appropriate,” said US attorney’s spokeswoman Christina DiIorio Sterling.
“The people in Boston deserve to get the right answer,’’ said Messina, questioning why the tip leading to Bulger’s arrest and the reward, funded by taxpayers, has been shrouded in secrecy. “They ignored my lead. The question is: Why?”

Messina said the FBI never called him about his tip that he spotted Bulger in Santa Monica three years ago, even though he left his name and cell phone number with staff at Fox’s America’s Most Wanted, who told him they had passed it along to the agency.
Messina said he was vacationing in California with his wife, Tonya, and three children, when he spotted a tanned, shirtless elderly man, dressed in shorts, sporting a gold necklace, and holding a book, leaning against a post on the pier.

When a young man wearing a Boston jersey passed by, Messina said the elderly man he believed was Bulger shouted to the passerby, “Where are you from in Boston?” and struck up a conversation about the city.
On June 22, the FBI arrested Bulger and Greig at a rent-controlled apartment at 1012 Third Street in Santa Monica, within walking distance of the pier, where they had been living since at least 1998 as Charlie and Carol Gasko.

“They would have caught him years ago but nobody called me in regards to my tip,” Messina said during a telephone interview with The Boston Globe today.

The FBI said the tip that led to the capture was called in to the FBI field office in Los Angeles a day before the arrests as a result of a new publicity campaign launched by the bureau. The blitz featured a 30-second television spot publicizing the worldwide manhunt for the couple and aired during commercial breaks of daytime television shows such as, “The View,” “Ellen,” and “Live with Regis & Kelly.”
The commercial spots focused more on the 60-year-old Greig, who was viewed as more sociable and distinct-looking than Bulger, who turned 82 this month. They noted that there was a $2 million reward offered for information leading to the capture of Bulger, a fugitive since 1995, and the reward for Greig, wanted for harboring a fugitive, was increased from $50,000 to $100,000. The spots were not aired in the Santa Monica or Los Angeles area.

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled Boston in early 1995 to avoid federal racketeering charges and was later charged with the 19 slayings.

Law enforcement officials said the the tip leading to the couple’s arrest came from a woman from Iceland who had crossed paths with the fugitives in Santa Monica and was watching CNN when she saw a story about the new FBI campaign targeting the couple and recognized them.
There was a brief hearing today in Bulger’s case in US District Court in Boston, but the gangster was not present. Bulger’s lawyer said he needed more time to sift through the mountains of documents that prosecutors have turned over in preparation for trial and the next hearing date in the case was set for Nov. 21.
Bulger is being held at the Plymouth County jail, while Greig is being held at a jail in Rhode Island.

After today’s hearing, Boston attorney J.W. Carney Jr. ,who represents Bulger, told reporters his client is “doing fairly well. He is being treated fairly and professionally by the [Plymouth County] sheriff’s office. I have no complaints.’’

Despite the brevity of the hearing and the absence of Bulger, some relatives of the people Bulger allegedly murdered made it a point to be in court today, including Patricia Donahue, widow of Dorchester truck driver Michael Donahue, and the couple’s adult son, Thomas.
“We want to know what’s going on, whether he’s [Bulger] here or not,’’ said Thomas Donahue, whose father was allegedly shot to death in 1982 by Bulger because he gave a ride to another man targeted for death, Brian Halloran.“We’ve been waiting 30 years. We can wait a little longer. Hopefully, in November, there can be more information.’’


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