A man who allegedly had been extorted by James “Whitey” Bulger and hoped to testify at his trial was given iced coffee laced with cyanide, according to police.  A Massachusetts man is charged with attempted murder.  Despite media and Internet speculation that Bulger, in Hollywood mob fashion, silenced a witness, the poisoning is unrelated to the Bulger trial.  Prosecutors told Stephen Rakes that he wouldn’t be testifying right before his death.  His body was found July 17th in the woods in Boston that same day.  Investigators say that they found out that the suspect, 69-year-old William Camuti owed Rakes money and acted alone.

Rakes was last seen on security footage leaving the Bulger trial where he had been an observer in the public gallery.  Camuti has plead not guilty and is being held without bail until a hearing Tuesday.  The medical examiner is awaiting test results in the death.

Prosecutors allege that Rakes and his former wife were forced to sell Bulger their South Boston liquor store in 1984 so that Bulger could use it as a headquarters for his gang.  Bulger once ran Boston’s Winter Hill Gang.  Rakes had looked forward to testifying, but learned that prosecutors were resting their case without calling him.  Surveillance video then shows that Rakes left the Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse wearing the same clothes that he was found dead in.  His identification, keys, and cellphone were missing.

Camuti and Rakes were business associates who had known each other for years and had several deals together.  Camuti asked Rakes to meet him July 16th to discuss a potential investment property.  Police alleged the deal was fake.  They met at a McDonald’s and Camuti allegedly bought two iced coffees, adding two teaspoons of potassium cyanide to one and then gave it to Rakes, who drank it.  Investigators said that they found inquiries Camuti made online about buying cyanide.  Camuti then drove around for hours with Rakes in the car, then dumped his body.

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