TODAY   |  August 03, 2013

Officials: Bulger trial witness victim of unrelated attack

The Boston trial of alleged mob kingpin James “Whitey” Bulger took a bizarre twist Friday when authorities charged a man in the death of a Bulger foe and potential witness. NBC’s Charles Hadlock reports.

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>>> bolger. a man who was a potential witness in the case was killed but his murder had nothing to do with the case. here's charles hadlock.

>> reporter: while plenty of drama has unfolded inside a boston courtroom where whitey bulger is on trial for corruption dating back to the '70s, boston place had their hands full investigating the poisoning death of a potential witness. steven rakes turned up dead in the woods outside boston last month, the same day prosecutors told him he would not be called to to testify against bulger about alleged extortion. massachusetts prosecutors say his sudden death had nothing to do with bulger. instead the district attorney said he was allegedly poisoned by a long-time business partner , 69-year-old william camoudi who they claim lured him to a mcdonald's for a business meeting. he owed rakes a significant amount of money.

>> he purchased iced coffees for himself and mr. rains for the meeting. the alleged that the defendant laced one of them with two teaspoons of potassium cyanide.

>> reporter: prosecutors allege he drove rakes around in the car for several hours until he h he became sick and died. then he dumped the body in the woods. until now there had been suspicions that there was more to his murder.

>> do you believe this had anything to do with whitey bulger ?

>> our investigation indicates mr. camoudi acted alone.

>> reporter: charges will be upgraded to murder when the medical examiner completes the autopsy. for "today" charles hadlock, nbc news.