A Baltimore defense attorney was arrested Tuesday after he was recorded telling an alleged rape victim the Trump administration would deport her if she testified against his client, court documents said.
Christos Vasiliades, 38, was arrested Tuesday at the courthouse as his client’s rape trial was set to start, according to the Baltimore Sun. He is charged with multiple counts that include witness intimidation and obstruction of justice.
Vasiliades’ interpreter, Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, was also arrested, the Sun reported.
A 12-court indictment in the case alleges that Vasiliades was recorded trying to dissuade the woman who accused his client of rape from testifying at trial. He and Rodriguez are also accused of trying to bribe her with $3,000.
The recording allegedly captured the lawyer talking about the “current environment” for immigrants in the United States since President Trump’s inauguration.
“You know how things are with Trump’s laws now,” he told the woman’s husband in the recorded conversation. “Someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away.”
According to court documents, Vasiliades also offered an alternative solution that he said would go over well in his native Greece: beat the defendant up.
“He’s an (expletive). I think you should find him and kick his (expletive), personally,” Vasiliades said, according to court documents obtained by the Sun.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who obtained the indictment against Vasiliades and Rodriguez, commented on the indictment on Facebook.
"Threatening a victim of crime with deportation could have a chilling effect on our criminal justice system," Frosh said.
The indictment, which was filed Tuesday, stated that the case against Vasiliades and Rodriguez began on April 11, when the men called the woman and her husband and asked to meet them, stating that her case had become “more complicated.” The meeting took place at a Baltimore restaurant.
During the meeting, they pointed out that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be in the courtroom for their client, Mario Aguilar-Delossantos, the indictment said. They told the couple that due to new federal laws and policies enacted by the Trump administration, there was a high risk that they would be deported if they showed up in court.
Vasiliades and Rodriguez are accused of telling the couple that Aguilar-Delossantos was “very sorry and could offer compensation if they did not come to court and testify against him,” the indictment said. The men claimed that the money could help ensure that the couple remained in the country.
Instead of taking the lawyer up on his offer, the couple went to law enforcement. Police investigators had them call Vasiliades on May 15, but that call was closely monitored and recorded.
Over the span of a couple of days, and multiple phone calls with Vasiliades, a face-to-face meeting was set up for May 18. When everyone arrived at the meeting place, an office space in Baltimore, Vasiliades made everyone leave their cellphones in the lobby.
Unknown to him or Rodriguez, however, the couple still had a recording device with them. The device recorded the lawyer reiterating the risk of deportation for the victim if she testified, the indictment said.
“Because she’s there (in court), you know, my guy’s going to be, like, ‘I’m here, but she is, too,’” Vasiliades told them, according to the document.
Rodriguez told the woman ICE officials would ask for her immigration documents. At that point, Vasiliades allegedly said, “Then everybody’s (expletive).”
It was during the May 18 meeting that Vasiliades and Rodriguez told the victim she and her husband would receive $3,000 if they failed to show up and the case got thrown out of court, the indictment said. The court document detailed the plan the men came up with.
“On the upcoming trial date, (the couple) should not show up to court and should instead wait outside the courthouse with Rodriguez, who would be holding the cash, while Vasiliades would appear in court,” the indictment said. “If the case was then ‘thrown out’ due to the fact that (the couple) did not show up, Vasiliades would come out of the courthouse, give a ‘thumbs up’ to Rodriguez and Rodriguez would hand (the couple) the cash.”
After pointing out that, in Greece, the punishment for an alleged rapist would be a beating, Vasiliades told the couple that all he wanted was for them to not show up at the trial, court documents said.
“I did my job, I did very good, and I can go home and go to sleep OK,” Vasiliades said, according to the indictment. “And then you get something, and then you find him outside, brother, and you (expletive) him up, that’s it.”
The Sun reported that Aguilar-Delossantos’s trial was pushed back to August because of his lawyer’s arrest. Aguilar-Delossantos is charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault, as well as third- and fourth-degree sexual offenses.
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