‘Whitey’ capture reward denied

Download a PDF of the story as it appeared in print
in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

By Jessica Fryman

A Las Vegas man is gearing up to sue the FBI for denying him a $2 million reward for his tip that he says led to the June capture of mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

Tipster Keith Messina learned this week that the FBI officially denied his claim for the reward in a statement that said the information he provided did not lead to Bulger’s arrest. Messina said several tidbits surrounding the treatment of his tip just don’t add up, including why the FBI’s denial letter was delivered more than two weeks after its July 13 date or why his tip was ignored.

“It’s kind of bogus,” Messina said. “For three years, (the FBI) decided to go all over the world and spend taxpayers money. In 2008, they would have had him, but they ignored my tip.”

Bulger, who led Boston’s Irish mob for decades, is suspected in connection with 19 slayings, money laundering, extortion and drug dealing, according to his profile on the “America’s Most Wanted” website. Bulger had been in hiding since 1995 and continuously had made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List since 1999.

Messina said he saw Bulger on the Santa Monica, Calif., pier in June 2008 with a woman thought to be his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig. The couple were arrested at their residence a few blocks away three years later.

“Maybe someone just made a mistake,” Messina said on why his tip went ignored. “It goes into a pile. Maybe someone just didn’t realize it and tossed it somewhere else. Maybe they knew he was there and just ignored it.”

The FBI’s statement did not say why the information was not used for Bulger’s arrest. An FBI spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the matter.

Reports show the reward money is for an unidentified woman in Iceland, a country of 320,000 where one newspaper editor said a secret that big would never stay quiet.

“If there is such a person that did the tip out there, split the reward at least,” Messina said. “It’s a very fishy story. … They don’t want to pay for it.”

Messina attorney Michael Gowdey said he is checking into options on how to proceed this week.

This story was originally published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal
on Aug. 6, 2011.
Original story on the Las Vega Review-Journal website.