Bloomberg News

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, has been found dead, prosecutors said yesterday.

His body was found Wednesday afternoon on a path off Mill Street in Lincoln, Mass., about a 20-mile drive from Boston, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement.

Rakes, 59, of Quincy, had been on the prosecution's witness list in the murder and racketeering case against Bulger, but hadn't been called. The government has been winding down its case in the trial, which started in early June.

"There were no obvious signs of trauma" to the body, Ryan said. An autopsy will be performed.

In 1984, Rakes was ordered at gunpoint to sell his liquor store 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 yesterday for 10 minutes and was expected back on the stand today.

As Flemmi, wearing a khaki prison uniform and green windbreaker, entered the courtroom, he and Bulger quietly muttered curse words at each other.

Tom Donahue, whose father, Michael Donahue, was allegedly gunned down in 1981 during the Bulger gang's assassination of another man, described the exchange of profanities as "two of the biggest rats squealing at each other." Prosecutors have said Bulger was an FBI informant and at least three agents were corrupted by his alleged schemes. Flemmi testified that he and Bulger were both informants while they ran a criminal organization from 1974 to 1994 and met "hundreds of times" with FBI agents.

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