More Charges In Ongoing Fraud, Obstruction Case
Six defendants, one from Wakefield, facing charges for trying to influence a fraud trial. Another defendant arrested this week on additional charges.
The following is an announcement from the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley:
A Winthrop man was arrested and arraigned in connection with an alleged conspiracy to obtain his own and another individual’s acquittal at a March 2012 trial in Suffolk Superior Court, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Tuesday.
Fred Battista, age 50, was arrested yesterday by State Police assigned to the AG’s Office and subsequently arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges of Corruption of a Witness, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy. At the arraignment, Battista pleaded not guilty and was held on $35,000 cash bail.
In April 2008, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against six individuals, including Fred Battista, for Insurance Fraud, Larceny, Conspiracy, and other offenses. The other individuals charged were David Forlizzi, age 52, of West Peabody; Janet Vaccari, age 51, of Peabody; Deana Pistone, age 29, of Wakefield; Laura Battista, age 63, of Revere; and William Penta, age 49, of Salem. Those charges stemmed from a 2007 investigation conducted by the AG’s Office after the matter was referred by the Insurance Fraud Bureau. The investigation focused on an alleged insurance fraud scheme that involved billing insurance companies for damage to motor vehicles from alleged non-existent motor vehicle accidents.
Before indictment, Vaccari, Pistone and Penta gave recorded statements to investigators indicating that Fred Battista and Forlizzi, who ran Collision Headquarters, Inc., an auto body shop in Winthrop, arranged the fraud. In 2008, Vaccari, Pistone, Penta, and Laura Battista pled guilty to conspiring with Fred Battista and Forlizzi to carry out the fraud. In March 2012, Vaccari, Penta, and Laura Battista testified at the trial of Fred Battista and Forlizzi. The testimony was in direct contradiction to their previously recorded statements to investigators and in contradiction to the prior guilty pleas. Instead, they testified at trial that Fred Battista and Forlizzi did not arrange the fraud and were unaware of the fraud. Additionally, Pistone could not be located for trial despite extensive efforts by the Commonwealth to do so.
After the presentation of evidence at the trial of Fred Battista and Forlizzi, the trial judge discharged the jury and recommended that an investigation examine whether perjury, subornation of perjury, and obstruction of justice had occurred, and whether a fraud had been committed upon the Court. The AG’s Office proceeded with an investigation into the alleged conspiracy to obtain acquittals in the trial.
According to investigators, Forlizzi, in conspiracy with Fred Battista, paid thousands of dollars to Vaccari in the period leading up to and during trial. Authorities allege that Vaccari sent that money to an out-of-state entity in order to keep Pistone hidden outside of the Commonwealth and from testifying against Forlizzi and Fred Battista at trial. Authorities also allege that Forlizzi, in conspiracy with Fred Battista and Vaccari, disguised the flow of the money to make it appear that Folizzi was not the source of the funds.
According to investigators, with Fred Battisa’s and Forlizzi’s encouragement, Vaccari, Penta and Laura Battista also allegedly obstructed justice and committed perjury by falsely testifying that Fred Battista and Forlizzi were uninvolved in the fraud.
Authorities further allege that the defendants furthered their conspiracy through numerous text messages and phones calls before and during the trial proceedings.
On July 19, Forlizzi, Vaccari, Pistone, Laura Battista, and Penta were arraigned in Boston Municipal Court. State Police assigned to the AG’s Office arrested Fred Battista yesterday morning. He was subsequently arraigned in Boston Municipal Court, where he pleaded not guilty to all charges and was held on $35,000 cash bail. All six defendants are due back in Boston Municipal Court on August 29, 2012 for a pretrial conference. Judge Eleanor Sinnot presided over yesterday’s arraignment.
These charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Brendan O’Shea, with the assistance of Investigators Rose Bagalawis and Christopher Gabriel, and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office.
Editor's Note: For a previous article on this case, click here.