DOWNTOWN — A former Icelandic beauty queen and actress collected the $2-million reward for turning in Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger and his longtime girlfriend to the FBI, the Boston Globe is reporting.
Anna Bjornsdottir, who was named Miss Iceland in 1974, intermittently lived in the Santa Monica neighborhood where she would sometimes encounter Bulger’s longtime girlfriend, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, as she fed an abandoned tiger-striped tabby. Bulger, who is accused of killing 19 people, would stand nearby.
“It was this bond, formed over the cat, that proved the downfall of one of America’s most wanted men, South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, after 16 years on the run,” according to the Globe article.
Bulger, 82, and Greig were arrested in June with a stash of about 30 firearms and $822,000 in cash hidden in the walls of their apartment.
The notorious fugitive, nicknamed “Whitey” for his shock of bright platinum hair, now faces a possible death penalty for his alleged crimes as a mobster. Bulger led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area.
Bulger had fled Boston after hearing from a corrupt FBI agent that he was about to be indicted. Greig joined him a short time later and has been charged with harboring Bulger as a fugitive.
Past Boston FBI officials had used Bulger as an informant for years against other organized crime factions and, later investigations found, tolerated or enabled his own ongoing criminal activities in what an appeals court in a related case earlier this year termed an “unholy alliance.”
Both Bulger and Greig have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Just days before the arrest, the FBI had launched new televised public service announcements about the pair, aimed at female viewers who might have seen Greig.
Bjornsdottir had known the couple as Charlie and Carol Gasko. But last summer, while she was at home in Iceland, the Globe said Bjornsdottir saw a CNN report about the FBI’s multi-city publicity campaign to track down Bulger and she called the FBI.
Bjornsdottir recognized them immediately as the Gaskos, her former neighbors — and the cat’s benefactors — an ocean away on Third Street.
Laura Eimiller said Monday that the FBI would not comment on the identity of the Bulger tipster or on any source in the case.
A Boston Globe reporter tried to talk to Bjornsdottir outside her Reykjavik apartment in July and again in September but she did not comment. The paper also tried to contact her by e-mail but Bjornsdottir’s husband replied that she would not comment.
She moved to Southern California in the late 1970s and appeared in cosmetics commercials. More recently she worked as a yoga instructor and graphic designer.