Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Whitey Bulger calls his trial a sham as prosecutors reveal witness was poisoned

Massachusetts police have picked up a possible suspect in the suspicious death of a would-be witness in the sensational trial of James "Whitey" Bulger, who won't be taking the stand in his own defense, lawyers announced Friday.

Asked by the judge if he was freely giving up his right to testify, Bulger blasted the proceedings as a "sham" trial.

"I feel like I've been choked off to give an adequate defense and my conversation with (now deceased Assistant U.S. Attorney) Jeremiah O'Sullivan and his promise to give me immunity," Bulger raged, referring to a judge's ruling blocking him from using past agreements with law enforcement officials as part of his defense.

"As far as I'm concerned I wasn't given a fair trial. This is a sham and do what you will with me," he added bitterly.

That prompted an outburst from the wife of one of Bulger's victims.

"You're a coward," shouted Patricia Donahue. Her husband Michael Donahue was an innocent bystander who was killed in a Bulger shooting in the 1980s.

Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, who was not allowed to testify during the trial of nemesis James "Whitey" Bulger. Rakes was found dead on July 17.

It was an acrimonious end to a bizarre trial that's seen a rogues' gallery of former Bulger buddies take the stand - and the sudden, suspicious murder of potential witness Stephen "Stippo" Rakes.

Rakes' body was found on a remote woodland path July 17 about 30 miles outside of Boston — and authorities now suspect he was killed with poison, WCVB TV reported Friday.

Rakes, 59, might have died from cyanide, the station said, citing police sources.

It's believed the killer might have been someone he owed money to, the station said.

Authorities issued a search warrant for a "person of interest" in Sudbury, WCVB reported. That person has been hospitalized, the channel said.

The District Attorney's office handling the case has declined to comment until results come back from Rakes' toxicology report.

Pallbearers carry the casket of Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, who died from a possible cyanide poisoning. A person of interest has been arrested in the case.

When he was found last month he had no obvious signs of trauma and was not carrying his wallet or a phone. His car was found parked in a fast-food lot about seven miles away.

Despite his highly publicized enmity toward Bulger, Rakes' murder didn't appear to be tied to his trial.

Rakes was a daily spectator in the months-long courtroom spectacle that featured graphic and violent testimony from the likes of John "The Executioner" Martorano and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, two of Bulger's former right-hand wise guys.

Rakes claimed the mobster forced him to sell his South Boston liquor store at gunpoint in 1984 — a tale he looked forward to sharing with the jury.

The Quincy man was devastated when prosecutors decided not to put him on the stand.

Police and FBI surround the apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., where fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger lived. He was arrested in 2011 after being on the lam since the ’90s.

He stormed out of the court after learning he would not get to testify against his longtime nemesis.

Rakes' body was found the next day.

Bulger, who has resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in prison, his lawyers said, tried to set aside some of his ill-gotten gains for the families of victims.

His defense lawyers told Boston Judge Denise Casper that Bulger wants the $822,000 taken from his California hideout to go to families who had civil judgments overturned because the statute of limitations had expired.

Prosecutor Brian Kelly said it has always been the intention of the government to give Bulger's seized assets to victims' families, but he said he isn't sure the crime boss "can dictate which ones get" money.

The 83-year-old Bulger is on trial in a broad racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and '80s.

He fled the city in 1994 and lived for 16 years on the lam. Authorities arrested him in 2011 after a tip led them to the rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., where Bulger was in hiding with a longtime gal pal.

Closing arguments are set for Monday.



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