(UPDATED) Bulger trial witness found dead

The scene in Lincoln Thursday afternoon after the body of James "Whitey" Bulger trial witness Steve Rakes was discovered. Photo via Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro
The scene in Lincoln Thursday afternoon after the body of James “Whitey” Bulger trial witness Steve Rakes was discovered. Photo via Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

A man who claimed he was forced to sell his South Boston liquor store to James “Whitey” Bulger and members of his Winter Hill Gang was found dead Wednesday, according to authorities.

Steve Rakes, 59, of Quincy, who showed up to court for many of the alleged mob boss’s pretrial hearings and trial, was found dead off Mill Street in Lincoln about 1:30 p.m., according to the Middlesex district attorney’s office and police.

Authorities said an autopsy was conducted Thursday and that no signs of trauma were found. Investigators are awaiting toxicology results, which usually take weeks, authorities said Thursday afternoon.

State and Lincoln police are investigating.

Earlier this week, government prosecutors said they didn’t believe they would need to call Rakes, despite his name appearing on their witness list. Bulger’s attorney, J. W. Carney Jr., said that if the government called Rakes, the defense would have about six witnesses it would call to rebut his testimony.

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.

Speaking to reporters after Weeks’ testimony, Rakes said, “He’s got his day up on the stand, then I’ll have my day.”

Weeks also said in his testimony that he didn’t like Rakes. Rakes told reporters that Weeks wasn’t on his favorite list either.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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