Trial Begins For Man Charged In Poisoning Death Of Bulger Extortion Victim

WOBURN (CBS/AP) – “The one and only reason that Mr. Camuti killed Stephen Rakes was money,” Middlesex Superior Court prosecutor Adrienne Lynch told the jury in her opening statement.

William Camuti, 72, of Sudbury, is accused of poisoning Whitey Bulger extortion victim Stephen Rakes, 59, of Quincy in July 2013.

stephenrakes crop Trial Begins For Man Charged In Poisoning Death Of Bulger Extortion Victim

Stephen Rakes. (Photo Credit: Chris Gobeille-WBZ-TV)

Lynch said Camuti put cyanide in Rakes’ coffee when the two met over a business deal and says he confessed to police. The reason for allegedly poisoning Rakes’ coffee was debt that totaled over $100,000.

“He couldn’t pay it, and so he chose that day to put into motion a plan that he had made over the course of time,” Lynch said.

In his opening statement, Camuti’s defense attorney Brad Bailey said that Camuti’s confession was made while he was hospitalized after a failed suicide attempt.

“These so-called admissions were not made voluntarily,” Bailey said. Bailey also said jurors would not hear from any eyewitnesses.

 

rakes2 Trial Begins For Man Charged In Poisoning Death Of Bulger Extortion Victim

Camuti and Rakes met at this McDonald’s in Waltham in July 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Rakes’ death was not connected to the Bulger case.

He had hoped to testify in Bulger’s 2013 federal trial but wasn’t called by prosecutors. Bulger was eventually sentenced to two life terms in a broad racketeering case that included involvement in 11 murders.

Prosecutors said Camuti owed Rakes money and invited him to a July 16, 2013 meeting at a McDonald’s in Waltham to discuss a real estate deal.

rakes Trial Begins For Man Charged In Poisoning Death Of Bulger Extortion Victim

The woods in Lincoln where Rakes’ body was found in July 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Camuti allegedly poisoned Rakes’ drink and drove him around for hours. Authorities say Camuti dumped Rakes’ body in the woods in Lincoln, where it was found the next day.

He has pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Brad Bailey told jurors Camuti and Rakes were planning to profit from Bulger’s trial.

Rakes had learned just before meeting Camuti that he wouldn’t be called as a witness against Bulger.  Rakes blamed Bulger for taking control of his South Boston liquor store at gunpoint in 1984 to use as headquarters for Bulger’s Winter Hill gang.

The jury was dismissed for the day after opening statements were presented. They will view several scenes linked to the case Friday.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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