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Whitey Bulger kept a low profile in Santa Monica, shopkeepers, local workers say

June 23, 2011 |  4:21 pm

Whitey_booking photo new
Danielle Meegan grew up in Boston hearing about Whitey Bulger from her parents and their friends. Her mother was raised in the Brighton neighborhood, close to the South Boston community where Bulger was revered.

"They said he was the nicest guy -- he never drank, never swore, always wore a Red Sox hat," Meegan said.

"He always did things for the community, if you were nice to him, he would help you out. It was a Southie Irish thing," she said of the close-knit community in South Boston.

Photos: The hunt for James "Whitey" Bulger

Meegan now works at a Santa Monica bakery and said she was shocked to find out Thursday that the fugitive crime figure so familiar in her hometown lived blocks from where she works.

Meegan said she and her brother even used to joke that they would one day track down Bulger and claim the $2-million reward that was being offered for his arrest.

Instead Bulger and his longtime girlfriend went quietly Wednesday night when authorities whisked them from the rent-controlled apartment not far from the Third Street Promenade.

"The thought that he could've come in here, it's like, I might have been the one to find him," Meegan said. "This is a huge deal back in Boston, everyone's talking about it. My mom's friends found out I work near where he lives and they're all asking, 'Did you see him?' "

But Bulger and his girlfriend appeared to have lived a quiet life in an affluent neighborhood where their Boston reputations were unknown.

Workers at a nearby gelato shop had heard the news, but nobody remembered seeing Bulger. It was the same story at the nearby pizzeria, hair salons and bakery. Although their faces looked vaguely familiar to a few, no one could be sure.

"Wouldn't that have been something if I had helped him?" said one employee at a Barnes and Noble, two blocks south of Bulger's apartment.


Full coverage: Get the latest on 'Whitey' Bulger's arrest

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--Corina Knoll, from Santa Monica

Photo: James "Whitey" Bulger and Catherine Elizabeth Greig, arrested Wednesday night in Santa Monica. Credit: WCVB-TV sources