One witness found dead, second testifies in Bulger case
BOSTON — Stephen Rakes, who allegedly was a victim of extortion by James “Whitey” Bulger and was listed as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of the reputed crime boss in Boston, was found dead, prosecutors said Thursday.
Rakes’ body was found on a path off Mill Street in Lincoln, about 20 miles from Boston, Wednesday afternoon, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement.
Rakes, 59, had been listed as a prosecution witness in the government’s murder and racketeering case against Bulger but hadn’t been called as the case is winding down.
“There were no obvious signs of trauma” to his body, according to Ryan. An autopsy will be performed.
Rakes was ordered at gunpoint to sell his liquor store in 1984 to Bulger and his crime partner Stephen Flemmi, according to prosecutors. Bulger’s gang wanted the store as a source of legitimate income, prosecutors said.
Flemmi, 79, who is serving a life sentence after admitting to 10 murders, testified Thursday for 10 minutes and is expected to return to the stand today. Flemmi and Bulger quietly muttered curse words at each other when Flemmi entered the courtroom.
Tom Donahue, whose father, Michael Donahue, was alleged to have been gunned down during the Bulger gang’s assassination of another man in 1981, listened to the exchange of profanities and described it as “two of the biggest rats squealing at each other.”
Flemmi testified that he and Bulger were both FBI informants while they ran a criminal organization from 1974 to 1994. He said he and Bulger met “hundreds of times” with FBI agents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak asked Flemmi to describe the nature of his relationship with Bulger.
“Strictly criminal,” Flemmi replied.
At court on July 16, Rakes said prosecutors had decided not to call him as a witness, said Steve Davis, whose sister, Deborah, was Flemmi’s ex-girlfriend and was murdered allegedly by Bulger and Flemmi in 1981.
“He was upset,” Davis said. “I tried calming him down. He was looking forward to testifying. He had a lot to say.”