For Whitey Bulger's Birthday, FBI Ups Reward

The FBI has a birthday present for one of its most wanted fugitives: The bureau has doubled its reward for reputed Boston mobster James J. "Whitey" Bulger to $2 million.

Authorities believe Bulger, who turns 79 today, has been on the lam since 1995. He faces charges for racketeering, murder, extortion, narcotics and money laundering, and debuted on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in 1999.

The FBI also released new age-enhanced photos of Bulger, showing what he might look like today. The most recent photo on Bulger's wanted poster dates from 1996.

Bulger was the head of the Winter Hill Gang, which allegedly raked in income from extortion money paid by career criminals in the Boston area in exchange for the ability to run drug operations, loan sharking and other illegal enterprises.

The government claims the reputed gang, also known as the Bulger group, was also pervasive in money laundering and other rackets.

Numerous columnists and bloggers have pointed out parallels between Bulger and the fictional Frank Costello, whom Jack Nicholson portrayed in the Boston-set Martin Scorsese mob flick "The Departed."

As part of its search, the FBI released an undated audio recording of Bulger in January. The date of the recording remains under court seal, but appears to be the result of telephone wiretaps.

In addition to its U.S. efforts to capture Bulger, federal authorities have conducted a global public information campaign in the hopes of finding him. German, Spanish and British television programs have featured his story as part of the endeavor.

Investigators hoped they had a break in the case after they obtained video of a couple resembling Bulger and his companion Catherine Elizabeth Greig, vacationing in Italy in 2007. But earlier this year, after the video aired on German TV, a couple in that country came forward to identify themselves as the pair seen on the tape.

Greig is also considered a fugitive; an April 1997 indictment charges her with helping Bulger hide from authorities.

The FBI said Bulger and Greig enjoy walks on beaches, might frequent libraries and historic sights and have a love of animals, which could draw them to shelters.

But the FBI added that Bulger also has a violent temper, is known to always carry a knife and should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.