Richard DesLauriers, the head of the Boston FBI who spearheaded the law enforcement response to the Boston Marathon bombings and whose team captured James “Whitey” Bulger, announced that he will retire next month after more than 26 years with the bureau.
DesLauriers, 53, will leave effective July 13, and he has accepted a job as vice president-corporate security with Penske Corp., a transportation services company in Michigan. He and some of his colleagues said that he was planning to leave in the weeks before the Marathon bombs went off on April 15, but that the duty of the law enforcement response kept him here.
“It’s just sort of time, after 26½ years in the FBI; it’s time for a career change,” said DesLauriers, who arrived as special agent in charge of the Boston office in July 2010.
“I think it’s been a very eventful three years,” he said. “We’ve had some tremendous accomplishments.”
DesLauriers is also nearing the mandatory retirement age of 57 for FBI agents, and he said the timing was appropriate to leave. Still, colleagues said his departure will be a loss.
“It’s unfortunate we will lose him from the area, but it sounds like it’s the right move for Rick,” said Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, who has worked with him in the bombings investigation.
In the months and years prior to the bombings, Davis said, the two law enforcement heads collaborated on countless other investigations, pursuing organized crime and gang shootings in Jamaica Plain.
“The circumstances surrounding the Marathon were sort of the extreme, but day in and day out, whenever we had joint operations, when we faced challenges in the neighborhood, Rick has stepped up,” Davis said. “He’s really conducted himself like that over the years.”
Since taking the helm of the Boston office, DesLauriers emerged as perhaps one of the highest-profile FBI super- visors the district has seen.
His arrival occurred as the FBI concluded its notorious Operation Ghost Stories investigation, which he helped to oversee, with the arrest of 10 Russian spies and their family members who had been living anonymously in the country, some in the Boston area.
Those arrests were a high point for a special agent who spent much of his FBI career in counterespionage work, including as deputy assistant director of the counterintelligence division at FBI headquarters.
DesLauriers, a Longmeadow native, was also involved in some of the area’s other high-profile cases. He was in charge during the convictions of Tarek Mehanna, a US citizen accused of terrorism, and former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi’s political corruption case.
Since 2010, the Boston FBI has also come under intense scrutiny, most recently for failing to take greater notice of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder Marathon bombing suspect. The bureau had been warned by Russian authorities in 2011 that he might have a radical agenda, but agents did not determine him to be a threat.
The FBI shooting of a man in Florida tied to Tsarnaev is also under review.
In addition, the Boston FBI is conducting an internal investigation following criticism of its use of Mafia leader Mark Rossetti as an FBI informant while he was under State Police investigation for running a violent organized crime ring.
US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz worked with DesLauriers on high-profile cases and community outreach efforts and found him to have “a great sense of integrity.”
“He has dealt with tremendous challenges in this district, and he really has been able to hold his own and provide the leadership that the FBI needs,” Ortiz said.
DesLauriers said he has no regrets from his FBI career and is confident that an investigative team of federal, state, and local law enforcement will continue to learn more about the Marathon bombings, as well as other priorities.
But even with his successes, one case remains open: the notorious theft of artwork from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
DesLauriers said investigators have intensified their investigation of the theft, but that solving that case “would have been very satisfying, as well.”