A Baltimore defense attorney was arraigned Wednesday on charges of obstruction of justice and witness intimidation for allegedly trying to dissuade a rape survivor from testifying against his client by telling her she risked deportation by the Trump administration.
In a recorded conversation, Christos Vasiliades, 38, and another man charged in the case, Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, told the survivor’s husband about the “current environment for immigrants in this country” and offered $3,000 cash if she did not show up to court, which would force prosecutors to drop the case, the indictment alleges.
“You know how things are with Trump’s laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away,” Rodriguez told the victim’s husband in the recorded conversation, according to an indictment by the Maryland attorney general’s office.
Vasiliades also offered an alternative solution: Just beat up his client.
“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,” Vasiliades was recorded saying, according to court documents. “He’s an (expletive), I think you should find him and kick his (expletive), personally.”
Vasiliades was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the hallway of the Courthouse East building, as the trial of his client, Mario Aguilar-Delosantos, was set to start, according to the sheriff’s office and court records.
Vasiliades returned to that courthouse Wednesday afternoon — wearing a yellow jumpsuit and hands cuffed behind his back. Prosecutors agreed to release him and Rodriguez under pre-trial supervision.
Rodriguez, who identified himself as Vasiliades’ interpreter, also was charged with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation, according to court records.
Billy Murphy, Vasiliades’ attorney, and Joseph Murtha, Rodriguez’s attorney, left the courthouse without commenting.
The charges against Aguilar-Delosantos come amid heightened concerns for immigrants as the Department of Justice steps up immigration enforcement. Arrests by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement were up 40 percent in the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
“If you’re an immigrant, you live in a climate of fear at this point, and these folks were trying to capitalize on that,” Attorney General Brian Frosh told The Baltimore Sun.
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