BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore attorney defending a man accused of rape is now out of jail after authorities say they caught him trying to bribe the victim and a witness in the case.
Christos Vasiliades faces a litany of charges, including obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Maryland: 974 New Cases Reported, Positivity Increasing
“This is terrible. This is as bad as it gets. You’ve got an officer of the court, who is supposed to uphold the law, really attempting to induce a witness not to testify,” says Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
Vasiliades’ lawyer released the following statement:
“The State has the enormous burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Unless and until the State proves each and every allegation to a near certitude, Mr. Vasiliades is innocent.”
The investigation into Vasiliades began back in April, when he is accused of contacting the victim his client, Mario Aguilar-Delossantoso, is accused of raping, along with a witness in the case.
During that meeting, he reportedly warned the victim and witness of the increased risk of deportation if they were to testify in court. He also offered to pay them is they didn’t show up to court and dropped the charges.
Frosh says the local attorney tried to take advantage of a climate of fear in Baltimore’s immigrant population. Many who are afraid to report crimes.
“We’ve heard rumblings that these kinds of actions go on, but we haven’t been able to prove it. In this case, we have a taped conversation,” Frosh says.
The victim contacted police, and agreed to wear a recording device when they met up with Vasiliades again.
They met with Vasiliades again on May 18, and during that meeting, he ordered everyone to keep their cell phones in the lobby, and didn’t allow them to bring phones into the office.
During that meeting, authorities say they caught Vasiliades on tape offering the victim and the witness $3,000 each if they didn’t show up to testify, and if the case got “thrown out.”READ MORE: Maryland Ranks No. 7 Among Most Diverse States
On the recording court documents say Vasiliades tells the victim’s husband “you know how things are with Trump’s laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away.”
Vasiliades had a plan that on the court date, the victim and witness should wait outside the courthouse, with a man who would have the cash. When the case was “thrown out” after the didn’t appear to testify, Vasiliades would give the other man a thumbs up, and he would then give them the money.
He also reportedly told the victim and witness that instead of testifying, they should take the money, then “find [Aguilar-Delossantoso] and wear him out,” and “if we were back home where I’m from, from Greece… we would go **** him up, that’s it, if you want to do that, that’s fine.”
The indictment shows he also said, “$3,000, and then find him and kick his ass,” and, “I did my job, I did very good, and I can go home and go to sleep, OK, and then you get something, and then you find him outside, brother, and you **** him up, that’s it.”
He also reportedly reiterated the increased chance of deportation if they were to testify.
“Cases like this that really take us two steps backward are such a shame,” says Elizabeth Alex of CASA of Maryland.
Alex says the organization has spent years trying to eliminate fear and encourage immigrant victims to report crimes.
She hopes this isn’t a setback.
“There is such a big and supportive environment here in Baltimore for these victims when they do come out, but its about getting the message to them that it’s not your fault and there’s people here to help,” Casa says.
Frosh says if convicted, Vasiliades is facing a lot of jail time for most of the charges and could also lose his license to practice law.
Vasiliades pleaded not guilty to the charges.MORE NEWS: WATCH LIVE: Anne Arundel County Officials Provide COVID-19 Update