The following is an announcement from the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley:
Six individuals were indicted today in connection with an alleged conspiracy to corrupt witnesses, suborn and commit perjury, and obstruct justice in order to obtain the acquittals of two defendants at a March 2012 criminal trial in Suffolk Superior Court, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“We allege that these defendants were involved in a scheme involving bribery and perjury that undermined the criminal justice system,” AG Coakley said. “It is vital that witnesses testify truthfully under oath to maintain the integrity of the judicial process.”
The following individuals were indicted today by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on the charges listed below:
David Forlizzi, age 52, of West Peabody:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Subornation of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, Conspiracy and Habitual Offender.
Fred Battista, age 50, of Winthrop:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Subornation of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy.
Janet Vaccari, age 51, of Peabody:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.
Laura Battista, age 63, of Revere:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy.
William Penta, age 49, of Salem:
Charged with Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy.
Deana Pistone, age 29, of Wakefield:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness and Conspiracy.
After receiving a referral from the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau in 2007, the AG’s began an investigation focused on an alleged insurance fraud scheme that involved intentionally damaging motor vehicles and then fraudulently billing insurance companies by falsely claiming that the damages were caused by accidents that never occurred.
In April 2008, after the investigation was completed, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Forlizzi, Fred Battista, Vaccari, Laura Battista, Penta and Pistone for Insurance Fraud, Larceny, Conspiracy, and other offenses.
Before indictment, Vaccari, Penta and Pistone gave recorded statements to investigators indicating that Forlizzi and Fred Battista, who ran Collision Headquarters, Inc., an auto body shop in Winthrop, arranged the fraud.
In 2008, Vaccari, Penta, Pistone and Laura Battista pleaded guilty to conspiring with Forlizzi and Fred Battista to carry out the fraud. In March 2012, Vaccari, Penta, and Laura Battista testified at the trial of Forlizzi and Fred Battista. Their testimony was in direct contradiction to their previously recorded statements to investigators, as well as in contradiction to their guilty pleas.
Instead, they testified at trial that Forlizzi and Fred Battista did not arrange the fraud and were unaware of the fraud. Shortly before the trial, the judge issued an arrest warrant for Pistone’s appearance at trial, but Pistone did not appear. Despite extensive efforts by the Commonwealth, she could not be located.
After the presentation of evidence at the trial of Forlizzi and Fred Battista, the trial judge found Forlizzi and Fred Battista not guilty, discharged the jury from their service, and recommended an investigation to 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.
Before their original 2010 trial date, Fred Battista and Forlizzi allegedly paid thousands of dollars in bribery money to Laura Battista and in return, she agreed to refuse to testify. It is also alleged that after Laura Battista was subsequently judicially compelled to testify, Fred Battista and Forlizzi paid her thousands of more dollars, and in return she agreed to lie for them at trial. Investigators allege that in return for this bribe, Laura Battista perjured herself at Fred Battista and Forlizzi’s trial in March 2012 by testifying that they did not arrange the fraud and were uninvolved in it.
Investigators further allege that Forlizzi, in conspiracy with Fred Battista, bribed Vaccari by promising her money if she would commit perjury at trial and if they were acquitted. Vaccari perjured herself by testifying at Forlizzi and Fred Battista’s March 2012 trial that they were uninvolved with the fraud and did not arrange it. Once they were acquitted, Forlizzi, in conspiracy with Fred Battista, paid Vaccari the agreed upon bribery money.
Authorities also allege that shortly after the trial judge issued an arrest warrant for Pistone’s appearance at trial to testify, Forlizzi, in conspiracy with Fred Battista, provided thousands of dollars to Vaccari to keep Pistone hidden outside of the Commonwealth and prevent her from testifying against Forlizzi and Fred Battista at trial. Authorities allege that Forlizzi, in conspiracy with Fred Battista, disguised the flow of the money to make it appear as though they were not the source of the funds.
Authorities allege that Penta, like Vaccari and Laura Battista, perjured himself at Forlizzi and Fred Battista’s trial by claiming that they were uninvolved with the fraud and did not arrange it. Authorities allege that the defendants furthered their conspiracy through numerous text messages before and during the trial proceedings.
State Police assigned to the AG’s Office took Forlizzi, Vaccari, Laura Battista, and Penta into custody on July 19 and they were subsequently arraigned in Boston Municipal Court. On August 13, Fred Battista was arrested and subsequently arraigned in Boston Municipal Court. All six defendants were indicted today by a Suffolk County Grand Jury. They are due back in Suffolk Superior Court on November 20 for 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.