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Possible witness in Whitey Bulger trial found dead

Stephen Rakes, 59, a Quincy resident and alleged extortion victim of former mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, was found dead at about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday near Mill Street in Lincoln, officials said.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death, according to a Thursday Middlesex District Attorney press release.

Rakes was on the list of the prosecution’s witnesses for the trial against Bulger, who faces more than 30 charges including murder, extortion and racketeering, but was notified on Tuesday his service was no longer needed, according to various news outlets.

Rakes was apparently going to testify that Kevin Weeks and Stephen Flemmi, two of Bulger’s closest associates, allegedly forced him to give up his liquor store at gunpoint. The two killers had allegedly come to his home with his daughters still in the room to force it from him in 1984.

He filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2001 for damages the FBI caused by sheltering Bulger and Flemmi during their time as informants, according to a Thursday story in the Boston Globe. A judge dismissed the case because the statute of limitations on the crime had expired.

Rakes told the Globe he waited as long as he did because he was convinced members of Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang were watching him and would come after him if he went to authorities.

With his case dismissed, Rakes was vocal about his enthusiasm to have Bulger convicted and told the Associated Press in April he wanted more than just a life sentence.

“The day I see him in a box, not breathing, will be better,” he said.

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