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FBI gives its effort to find fugitive Bulger a makeover

Ad in newsletter asks surgeons to comb records

The FBI took out a full-page ad in the April-May edition of Plastic Surgery News, featuring photos of Catherine Greig. The FBI took out a full-page ad in the April-May edition of Plastic Surgery News, featuring photos of Catherine Greig. (Plastic Surgery News)
By Shelley Murphy
Globe Staff / May 13, 2010

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The FBI hopes that during her 15 years on the run with fugitive gangster James “Whitey’’ Bulger, Catherine Greig might have felt the need for a little makeover.

The bureau took out a full-page ad in the April-May edition of Plastic Surgery News, a newsletter circulated to more than 6,000 plastic surgeons worldwide, with photos of Greig, Bulger’s girlfriend, asking, “Have you treated this woman?’’

Greig, a dental hygienist whose 59th birthday fell in April, has had several plastic surgery procedures. According to the FBI, she had breast implants, a face lift, liposuction, and eyelid surgery before she went on the run with Bulger. It’s possible, the bureau believes, that she sought a touch-up while on the lam.

“This is one of many techniques that we are employing currently to locate Mr. Bulger and Miss Greig,’’ said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office. “This is an ongoing investigation.’’

The ad, which features photos of Greig before and after her surgery, asks anyone who may recognize her to call the FBI at 617-742-5533.

“We’re always happy to help,’’ said Mike Stokes, managing editor of Plastic Surgery News, a publication of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He said the FBI probably placed the ad because the newsletter has international reach. Its subscribers include plastic surgeons in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Allure magazine first reported the news about the ad, with the headline: “Nip/Tuck Meets America’s Most Wanted.’’

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled before his January 1995 federal racketeering indictment in Boston and is wanted in 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s. The fugitive, whose 80th birthday was in September, has been a fixture on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, and the bureau is offering a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.

“I bet that’s got some people going through their old files,’’ Stokes said.

Greig, who was raised in South Boston, had been living in Quincy before she fled. She is wanted for harboring a federal fugitive.

The last confirmed sighting of Bulger was in London in 2002, according to the FBI.

The ad says Greig had breast implants in 1982 and provides the product and lot number of them. It also says that Greig has a ragweed allergy and a sensitivity to Valium, diazepam, and erythromycin.

Dr. Phil Haeck, a Seattle plastic surgeon and president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said there is a fairly good likelihood that Greig’s implants have been removed or replaced.

He said Greig had first-generation implants, which could leak and stimulate hardening of a scar around the implant.

“If they haven’t broken and haven’t stimulated scar tissue, you’re lucky and should have them removed,’’ Haeck said.

But even if Greig underwent surgery while on the run, the FBI faces a daunting task in trying to determine where.

“It’s so easy to go overseas and have plastic surgery,’’ said Haeck, adding that it has become increasingly common for Americans to travel abroad for cheaper surgeries, and that anyone with an Internet connection can make arrangements.

Still, Haeck called the placement of the ad “a fascinating attempt,’’ which could bring the tip that leads to the capture of Bulger and Greig.

If Greig was a fan of surgery, Bulger clearly was not. A former Bulger associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Bulger “had a phobia of doctors’’ and was unlikely to subject Greig or himself to medical procedures that would leave a trail of hospital records.

After Bulger fled, investigators seized a leather binder of personal papers he left, including a handwritten account of the lingering effects he suffered from participating in a CIA-sponsored experiment with LSD when he was serving time for bank robbery at an Atlanta federal prison in the 1950s.

“It’s 3 a.m. and years later I’m still effected [sic] by LSD in that I fear sleep,’’ Bulger wrote. “The horrible nightmares that I fight to escape by waking. The taste of adrenaline, gasping for breath often I’m woken by a scream and find it’s me screaming.’’

Writing of his distrust of doctors, Bulger wrote, “I have been sick and injured many times these years, but treated myself with over-the-counter medicine.’’

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