For Immediate Release - July 19, 2012

Five Individuals Arraigned in Connection with Allegedly Throwing a Criminal Trial

Charges Include Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy

BOSTON – Five individuals were arraigned today in connection with an alleged conspiracy to corrupt a witness, suborn and commit perjury, and obstruct justice in order to obtain the acquittal of two defendants at a March 2012 trial in Suffolk Superior Court.

“The truthful testimony of witnesses under oath is critical for a successful trial and any attempt to suborn perjury and obstruct justice will be prosecuted,” said AG Coakley. 

The following individuals were arraigned today in Boston Municipal Court.  They are charged as follows:

David Forlizzi, age 52, of West Peabody:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.  At arraignment, Forlizzi pled not guilty and was held on $25,000 bail.  He is due back in Boston Municipal Court on August 29, 2012 for a pretrial conference.

Janet Vaccari, age 51, of Peabody:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.  At arraignment, Vaccari pled not guilty and was held on $1,500 bail.  She is due back in Boston Municipal Court on August 29, 2012 for a pretrial conference.

Deana Pistone, age 29, of Wakefield:
Charged with Corruption of a Witness and Conspiracy.  At arraignment, Pistone pled not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.  She is due back in Boston Municipal Court on August 29, 2012 for a pretrial conference.

Laura Battista, age 63, of Revere:
Charged with Perjury, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy.  At arraignment, Laura Battista pled not guilty and was held on $1,500 bail.  She is due back in Boston Municipal Court on August 29, 2012 for a pretrial conference.

William Penta, age 49, of Salem:
Charged with Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy.  At arraignment, Penta pled not guilty and was held on $2,500 bail.  He is due back in Boston Municipal Court on August 29, 2012 for a pretrial conference. 

Judge Thomas Horgan presided over today’s arraignments.

In April 2008, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Forlizzi, Vaccari, Pistone, Battista, Penta and another individual, Fred Battista, for Insurance Fraud, Larceny, Conspiracy, and other offenses.  The 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 Forlizzi and Fred Battista, 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 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. 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 Forlizzi and Fred Battista 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 Forlizzi and Fred Battista, 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 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 at trial.  Authorities also allege that Forlizzi and Vaccari disguised the flow of the money to make it appear that Folizzi was not the source of the funds.  Authorities further allege that the defendants furthered their conspiracy through numerous text messages and phones calls before the trial.

According to investigators, Vaccari, Penta and Laura Battista also allegedly obstructed justice and committed perjury by falsely testifying that Forlizzi and Fred Battista were uninvolved in the fraud.

These charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

State Police assigned to the AG’s Office took Forlizzi, Vaccari, Laura Battista, and Penta into custody this morning.  All five defendants were arraigned today in Boston Municipal Court.  State Police also executed search warrants in this matter to obtain relevant evidence.  The investigation remains ongoing.

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.

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