BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts man was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering an extortion victim of former Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, a killing that drew considerable media attention because it occurred during the gangster’s high-profile trial.
Stephen Rakes had been expected to testify that Bulger had forced him at gunpoint to sell a liquor store for pennies on the dollar, when his body was found by a jogger in a suburb of Boston in July 2013, with no obvious signs of trauma.
Investigators eventually concluded that Rakes, 59, had been poisoned by an associate, William Camuti, who owed him money. Camuti, 72, was found guilty by a Massachusetts jury on Wednesday.
“Deeply in debt to his long-time business partner Stephen Rakes, William Camuti offered to meet the victim to discuss financial matters over coffee,” Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement. “Unbeknownst to the victim, the defendant had laced the victim’s coffee with potassium cyanide to avoid paying the $100,000 he owed the victim. The defendant then waited for his so-called friend to die before leaving the victim in the woods.”
Even without Rakes’ testimony, Bulger was found guilty of a sweeping racketeering indictment that included 11 murders, extortion and drug offenses.
Bulger, who once ruled Boston’s criminal underworld, fled Boston in 1994 after being tipped off by a corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation agent that his arrest was imminent. He spent 16 years on the lam, most of them listed atop the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, before agents caught up with him in a seaside apartment in Santa Monica, California.
Now 87, Bulger is serving a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole in a federal penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Steve Orlofsky