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Family of Man Slain by Whitey Bulger Sues U.S.

BOSTON (CN) - The FBI allowed the body of a man killed by Whitey Bulger to remain on a small Massachusetts beach for decades, the victim's family claims in Federal Court.

The June 1 complaint makes no mention of the fact that the Winter Hill Gang leader had it out for Paul McGonagle Sr. because of the latter's position in a rival outfit.

Indeed, three years before Paul's 1974 disappearance, Bulger shot and killed Paul's similar-looking, though law-abiding, brother Don after mistaking him for his nemesis.

The widowed Mary McGonagle and her two sons say law enforcement finally unearthed Paul's remains in September 2000 after Kevin Weeks, of South Boston, led them to a shallow grave at Tenean Beach in Dorchester.

Whatever closure the family got from that discovery sustained a blow when testimony from Bulger's 2013 trial revealed that the FBI knew where Paul was buried all along, according to the complaint.

The allegations represent the latest blowback against the United States for permitting Bulger and his associate, Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, continue criminal activities in the Boston area in exchange for their services as FBI informants.

It was a tip from Special Agent John Connolly that sent Bulger into hiding for 16 years before the government finally brought him to justice.

Paul Sr.'s death was one of the 11 murder counts of which Bulger was convicted in 2013. At that trial, Flemmi testified that he, Bulger and Connolly regularly met at Tenean Beach, and that Bulger often made remarks about Paul's body being buried there.

If the tide was coming in when Flemmi and the former crime boss drove by, Bulger would say, "Drink up, Paulie,'" Flemmi testified, according to the complaint.

Several families of Bulger's victims have since held the FBI liable over the years, and Connolly got a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the gang's activities - a relationship the McGonagles describe as "a Faustian bargain."

The FBI did not return to a request for comment.

McGonagle and her sons are represented by Quincy-based attorney Timothy Foley.

They seek $9.9 million in damages for negligence and emotional distress, saying the government's silence for 26 years "was extreme and outrageous, beyond all possible bounds of decency."

"Twenty-six Christmas mornings the family awoke not knowing their father's fate," the complaint states.

At Father's Days, birthdays and graduations, through weddings, family dinners and the births of grandchildren, "the family awoke not knowing their father's fate," they say.

"No reasonable person should be expected to endure this suffering."

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