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Witness in James 'Whitey' Bulger trial found dead

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, an 83-year-old Irish-American is said to have inspired Jack Nicholson’s character in the film ‘The Departed’.

Image: Boston Police

A MAN WHO had been listed as a witness for the prosecution in the trial of alleged Boston mob boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger has been found dead, police said.

The body of Stephen Rakes, 59, was discovered on Wednesday in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The local district attorney, Marian T. Ryan, said there had been no obvious signs of trauma but that an autopsy was being carried out and an investigation into the cause of death was under way.

Bulger, an 83-year-old Irish-American who is said to have inspired Jack Nicholson’s malevolent character in the 2006 film ‘The Departed’ went on trial in Boston last month accused of 19 murders, extortion, money-laundering and arms trafficking.

The case has been given additional spice by claims that Bulger was allowed to run parts of Boston as a personal fiefdom because of his links to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for whom he was allegedly an informant.

Rakes had been expected to testify against Bulger having claimed that he was a victim of extortion by the alleged mobster when he owned a liquor store in south Boston in the 1980s.

Prosecutors had however recently decided not to put him on the stand, apparently because his version of events was contradicted by another prosecution witness.

Bulger’s trial is expected to run until September. He was arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run.

© AFP, 2013

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