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Man Who Claimed Whitey Bulger Stole His Southie Liquor Store Found Dead

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Bulger Trial

BOSTON (CBS) – Stephen Rakes, the former South Boston liquor store owner who claimed Whitey Bulger muscled him out of business years ago, has died.

Rakes, 59, of Quincy, had been attending Bulger’s trial at U.S. District Court in South Boston and was at one point expected to be a prosecution witness.

Check: Live WBZ Updates From Bulger Trial

According to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, Rakes’s body was found around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday along a walking trail in the area of Mill Street in Lincoln.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports

Sources tell WBZ-TV, they don’t know how Rakes died but investigators are treating the death as suspicious. The exact cause of death is expected following an autopsy.

“There were no obvious signs of trauma,” Ryan said in a statement.  The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy, but results aren’t expected for several days.

Sources told WBZ-TV Rakes was found with no identification on him and authorities are still looking for his car.

According to WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong, Rakes was in court almost every day. On Tuesday afternoon, he learned he wasn’t going to testify and did not come to court Wednesday.

Rakes and his wife spent $100,000 to open Stippo’s Liquor Store on the rotary on Old Colony Ave. in 1984.

But a short time later, according to Rakes, Bulger, Stephen Flemmi and Kevin Weeks threatened to kill him if he didn’t turn over the store to them.

According to investigators, Bulger wanted to use the store as the new headquarters for his criminal enterprise.

Rakes said Bulger put $67,000 in cash on his table in exchange for the store.

“They gave me a bag of money and said we own the store and started laughing,” he told WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson in April 2012.

“I’m pretty angry still about what happened close to thirty years ago, and I want to make sure Bulger gets justice. I’ll be satisfied when he’s in jail and never coming out.” 

In 2003, a judge ordered Bulger to pay Rakes $28 million. Rakes wanted the government to go after what he believes is Bulger’s hidden fortune.

Bulger spent 16 years on the run.  He was captured in Santa Monica, California in June 2011.

“I feel terrible about what happened and feel sick about it, and I feel shame because I couldn’t fight them back because they were so powerful I didn’t know what to do,” Rakes said.

According to WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones, Rakes was furious when Weeks denied the extortion on the witness stand earlier this month.

Other victims’ families say he was upset about the prosecutor’s decision to deny him the chance to testify and that he wanted to tell his side of the story on the witness stand.

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