James 'Whitey' Bulger

According to an NBC News report, A Boston man who had been listed as a witness against James "Whitey" Bulger was found dead, but there was no obvious sign of trauma and an autopsy was underway, officials said Thursday.

Stephen "Stippo" Rakes had long claimed that Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang henchmen forced him at gunpoint, while they threatened his young daughter, to sell his liquor store for $65,000.

But earlier this month, another witnesses, former Bulger associate Kevin Weeks, testified that Rakes wanted to sell the shop and tried to shake down the gangsters for more money, sparking a confrontation in which guns were pulled.

Rakes, 59, was on the prosecution's list of witnesses to testify against Bulger, 83, who is on trial for racketeering and murder after spending 16 years on the lam as one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives.

According to the Boston Globe, though, he was told Tuesday afternoon that he would not be called to the stand, depriving him of the opportunity to rebut Weeks' account.

Read more at nbcnews.com

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