AFM Flashback: Whitey Bulger Got Busted in Santa Monica in 2011

Stuart Cahill/Polaris
A shackled Whitey Bulger arrives at Logan International Airport in Boston shortly after his arrest.

It was in this city in which the Irish-American gang leader, on the run from a 32-count federal indictment that included 11 murders, had been hiding for 16 years before his June 2011 arrest. He was reportedly beaten to death on Tuesday while in a federal prison at the age of 89.

Like AFM, James “Whitey” Bulger had connections to Hollywood and Santa Monica.

The Boston mobster, reportedly beaten to death on Tuesday while in a federal prison at the age of 89, was portrayed by Johnny Depp in Black Mass (2015), and Jack Nicholson played a version of him in The Departed (2006). And it was in Santa Monica that the Irish-American gang leader, on the run from a 32-count federal indictment that included 11 murders, had been hiding for 16 years before his June 2011 arrest.

Bulger began his life in Santa Monica by acquiring the Social Security number of a homeless man he met in a park. He and girlfriend Catherine Greig used the names Charlie and Carol Gasko to lease rent-controlled unit No. 303 in the Princess Eugenia Apartments at 1012 3rd St. for $837 per month. (The two-bedroom residence now rents for more than $3,000.) Bulger made his own unique improvements to the space: He hid $822,198 in cash wrapped in plastic and 30 guns behind the drywall.

Like other retirees, Bulger enjoyed shopping twice a week at the local farmers market. On special occasions, he and Greig would dine at Michael’s in Santa Monica and sometimes stop by Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub on Wilshire for a drink. Bulger would probably still be living this unassuming lifestyle if it weren’t for his girlfriend’s love of cats.

An Icelandic neighbor, who was an actress and yoga teacher, had seen an FBI video about Bulger. She recognized Greig as someone with whom she shared an interest in caring for stray cats. Within 24 hours of her contacting the FBI, Bulger and Greig were under arrest.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Nov. 4 daily issue at the American Film Market.