Baltimore, MD - Defense attorney Christos Vasiliades was arraigned Wednesday, after being accused of telling a rape victim that she risked deportation from President Trump's administration if she testified. He is also accused of also offering her $3,000 not to testify and offering her the opportunity to beat up his client instead of testifying.
According to Justin Fenton with The Baltimore Sun, Vasiliades was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the hallway of the Courtroom East Building, just as the trial of his client, Mario Aguilar-Delosantos, was about to start. He and another man charged in his client's case, Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, were released after the arraignment under pre-trial supervision.
Vasiliades contacted the victim's husband in April and asked to meet, stating the case had become "more complicated." During that meeting the victim's husband, who was not identified, said Vasiliades and Rodriguez talked about the danger to the couple if they testified in court.
They told them that ICE would likely be present in court for their client, and that there was a high risk that they would be deported due to "new federal laws and policies." Vasiliades told them that Aguilar-Delosantos was very 'sorry,' and "could offer compensation if they would not come to court and testify against him." Both Vasiliades and Rodriguez said that the money would guarantee that they wouldn't be deported.
On May 15, the victim's husband called Vasiliades at the direction of police officers, and told him that he wanted to meet and discuss the offer. An agreement was made to meet three days later, and the victim's husband wore a wire.
Vasiliades made everyone leave their cell phones on a desk in the lobby of the building where they met, then led them into an office. He and Rodriguez said that ICE was "looking into the case regarding their client," and quoted recent immigration stats to them. He said that ICE would ask them if they had their documents if they came to court.
He then offered them $3,000, and said Rodriguez would wait outside the courthouse with the cash, and that he would walk outside and give him a sign of thumbs-up when the case was dropped. Vasiliades also talked about them assaulting his client, and that he told them to "find him and wear him out."
He said, "You know how things are with Trump's laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away." He also said that he was from Greece and, "If we were back home where I'm from, from Greece ... we would go (expletive) him up, that's it, if you want to do that, that's fine. He's an (expletive), I think you should find him and kick his (expletive), personally."
During Vasiliades' arraignment, Rodriguez identified himself to the court as the defense attorney's interpreter. Both Vasiliades and Rodriguez were charged with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation, and both pleaded not guilty.
Aguilar-Delosantos is charged with second-degree rape, third and fourth-degree sex offenses, and second-degree assault from a March 2016 incident. He is out on $250,000 bond and trial date was continued until August.
Christos Vasiliades has been charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction/intimidation, two counts of intimidating a witness by threat, two counts of intimidating a witness by corrupt means, two counts of solicitation to intimidate a witness, two counts of influencing a victim to withhold testimony, two counts of influencing a witness to be absent from a proceeding, and obstruction of justice. He is being represented by his former boss, Joe Murtha, and well-known Baltimore defense attorney, Billy Murphy.
Do you think that the behavior of the defense attorney in this case was abnormal, or do you think that he is just one of many who behave this way? We'd like to hear what you think. Please let us know in the comments.