This article appeared in The Boston Globe May 19, 2001.
For 17 years Stephen Rakes has lived in fear, constantly looking over his shoulder for James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen Flemmi, the menacing gangsters he says stole his business and threatened to kill him.
Convinced that he was being stalked by a Bulger associate while working in the tunnel at the Broadway MBTA station in 1995, Rakes fled down the tracks and suffered a shock when he brushed against the electrified third rail.
But today it’s Bulger, one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, who is on the run. And Rakes, who was threatened with prison for refusing to testify against Bulger and his gang during the 1990s, is now a key government witness against them.
Last week, Rakes, his former wife, Julie Dammers, and their three children filed a legal claim against the FBI seeking $120 million in damages, alleging that the agency destroyed their lives while protecting Bulger and Flemmi, their longtime informants.
“Even if I didn’t step up to the plate years ago, I feel great that I’m able to step up to the plate now,” said Rakes, speaking publicly for the first time about how Bulger and Flemmi allegedly stole his South Boston liquor store in 1984 and frightened him into silence for years.
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