Friday, August 2, 2013

Middlesex County DA Charges Man With Poisoning of Former Bulger Witness

Police have made an arrest in the death of  59 year old Stephen Rakes, who's body was found in Lincoln, MA last month. Initially ruled a suicide, an autopsy revealed that Rakes had died after drinking an iced coffee laced with cyanide.

William Camuti, 69, of Sudbury, is charged with attempted murder, misleading police, and unlawful disposition of human remains in Rakes' death. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday and was ordered held without bail until a hearing Tuesday.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Ryan said Camuti lured Rakes to a McDonalds restaurant in Waltham. Ryan said Camuti put two teaspoons of potassium cyanide in Rakes' iced coffee and then drove around with Rakes in the car until he died. Ryan said he then dumped the body and removed all his identification.

Ryan said investigators believe Camuti acted alone and Rakes' death was not connected to the Bulger trial.

Camuti was convicted in 1993 of 11 counts of mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud investors. Court records show Camuti was soliciting money from a group of Waltham businessmen, promising to invest their money in mortgages and never following through.

Investigators say that Camuti owed Rakes a substantial amount of money and that was a likely motive in the poisoning. The Middlesex County DA's office believes the Bulger connection was a coincidence, since Rakes wasn't even on the prosecution's witness list for the current trial.

In the 1980s, Rakes owned a South Boston liquor store that he alleged Bulger and his right-hand man Steve Flemmi extorted him into selling for $67,000 in cash one night in 1984. Rakes and his family briefly fled to Florida before being summoned back to Boston by Bulger. Rakes then-wife reported the case to her uncle, a Boston Police detective, who in turn reported the takeover of the store to FBI agent John Connolly- unaware that Bulger and Flemmi were informants for the FBI and that Connolly was their handler.

Rakes said that Bulger then threatened him into changing his testimony and perjuring himself when an earlier criminal complaint was brought against Bulger in 1991, claiming the sale was voluntary. When Whitey went on the run, Rakes was charged with perjury.

Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested by the FBI in Santa Monica, CA in June 2011 after more than 15 years on the run. Agents were following up on a tip from one of their neighbors [a former Miss Iceland pageant winner, no less!- NANESB!]. The agency broke the case open shortly after they decided to air a series of announcements focusing in Greig on daytime TV talk shows geared more towards women.

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