I met Steve Stippo Rakes in the spring or was it last fall outside the federal courthouse. It was during the time the Whitey hearings were happening now and again. It was a chilly day. I had a nice conversation with him that lasted more than a half an hour. He was very open and full of knowledge about Southie which I enjoyed listening to. He did most of the talking.
I told him I was friends of his ex-wife Julie’s uncles who lived three houses away from me. Stippo was a guy of strong opinion but never offensive, it seemed he had a smiling intensity. I would see him off and on after that time exchanging a few words. I’ve told how I was at Castle Island with my grandkids and he came up with a friend and we discussed the trial.
Most recently I talked to him from afar suggesting that Kevin Weeks was not his biggest fan. Both times he indicated by word or expression what could he do about it. Always with a knowing smile as if to say “I’m not worried, I can handle myself.” But he did tell me about the time he thought he saw Whitey come through the door at the L Street bathhouse and he took off in fright. He was tough but wary.
People I knew would tell me he was as bad as Whitey; or he deserved to have his store extorted; or he was a suspect in one crime or another. I had no idea whether any of it was true but after meeting him I dismissed it all as a lot of loose street talk by people who did not know him.
Last night I was ironing so I turned on TV to alleviate the boredom. Now I know why those day time programs have viewers. Two men were on the Emily Rooney show. They were talking about the Whitey case. One was part of Emily’s staff, the other I had trouble recognizing. I had not seen Anthony Cardinale in many years so his success and Father Time had made him almost unrecognizable.
Both men said Stippo’s death was suspicious. Tony said he has inside information from the state police that Stippo’s demise has nothing to do with the present trial. He said the investigation is going in another direction. Emily said he’s always been right so she’s going with that.
I’m not. I’m actually surprised. If they don’t know how he died, how can they be going in one direction rather than another. If they are then they must know more than they are letting on. My gut tells me it has everything to do with some of the guys involved in the trial; when the federal umbrella was taken away from Stippo, he quickly met his demise. It was too coincidental that he died on the day he was no longer protected by the federals.
We will keep a close watch on that. Let’s hope the FBI does not get involved or we will have another Todashev situation.
I see the ACLU despairing of any honest report from the FBI, isn’t it amazing that the FBI has let its reputation sink so low, has asked the states to conduct their own investigations. Kudos to the Boston Globe for staying on top of this story. The ideas that over two months have passed and the FBI is still investigating why a man was killed in front of six law enforcement officers to me is shocking.
We can’t let Stippo’s death pass into oblivion. We must stay on top of it and see what we can learn.