Witness due to give evidence at 'Whitey' Bulger trial found dead
A MAN who was on the witness list for the racketeering trial of reputed mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, and had been a vocal critic of the reputed gangster has been found dead, authorities have said.
The body of Stephen Rakes (59) was found Wednesday afternoon with no obvious signs of trauma, the District Attorney's Office said yesterday. Authorities were conducting an post mortem to determine the cause and manner of his death.
Rakes, pictured, and his former wife were forced to sell Bulger their South Boston liquor store in 1984 to use as a headquarters for his gang and as a source of legitimate income, prosecutors say.
Meanwhile, Bulger and his former partner faced each other for the first time in nearly two decades yesterday, when Stephen 'The Rifleman' Flemmi took the stand at his racketeering trial and told of their years as secret FBI informants while they ran a feared gang in South Boston.
Prosecutors say they were partners in crime, gangsters who together led a criminal organization that ruled Boston's underworld for more than two decades through fear, intimidation and violence.
Bulger, of South Boston, was the reputed boss of the mostly Irish-American Winter Hill Gang.
Flemmi's short appearance – he took the stand about 15 minutes before the day's court session ended and was expected back Friday – was bookended with tense exchanges with Bulger.
Bulger, now 83, is accused of participating in 19 killings during the 1970s and '80s.