Steve Rakes: Alleged Bulger victim poisoned by business associate

bulger boston steven rakes steve
Steve Rakes talks to reporters outside the federal courthouse after a day of testimony in the Bulger trial.
Credit: Michael Naughton/Metro

A man who was on the witness list to testify against alleged mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger was poisoned by a business associate who owed him money, authorities said Friday. 

Stephen Rakes, 59, of Quincy was found dead on a walking trail in Lincoln July 17.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said that William Camuti, 69, of Sudbury, faces charges including attempted murder for Rakes’ death. Camuti was expected to be arraigned late Friday afternoon. He did not yet face a murder charge as authorities are still waiting for toxicology results from the medical examiner’s office.

Asked about a motive, Ryan said that Camuti owed Rakes “a significant amount of money.”

When asked if there was a connection to the Bulger case, Ryan said Camuti acted alone.

“Our evidence indicates that Mr. Camuti acted alone and a business transaction was the basis of the contact,” Ryan said.

Saying that investigators had developed various pieces of evidence, Ryan said that Camuti lured Rakes to a McDonalds to discuss a real estate transaction. He then bought ice coffees, laced Rakes’ drink with potassium cyanide, drove around for a few hours and then dumped the body in Lincoln, Ryan said.

At the time of the death, authorities said there were no signs of trauma and that investigators had to wait for toxicology results.

Rakes was on the prosecution’s witness list to testify against Bulger, but as the trial went on government attorneys eventually said they believe they didn’t need to have him testify. He was found dead days later.

Rakes owned a liquor store in South Boston that he said Bulger and his gang forced him to sell to them so they could use it as a front. Confessed Winter Hill Gang member Kevin Weeks testified earlier that Rakes’ sister came to them and said he was looking to sell the store.

Camuti was arrested Friday in Boston.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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