Three Individuals Sentenced in Connection with Corruptly Obstructing a Criminal Trial
BOSTON – Three individuals have been sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to corruptly obtain acquittals at a March 2012 automobile insurance fraud criminal trial, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
On Friday, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Locke sentenced Janet Vaccari, age 55, of Peabody, and Laura Battista, age 67, of Revere, to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service each.
Judge Locke also sentenced William Penta, age 52, of Brookline, NH, to two years in the House of Correction, suspended for three years, three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
These three defendants entered into cooperation agreements with the Commonwealth in connection with the prosecution of David Forlizzi and Fred Battista for suborning perjury at their 2012 insurance fraud trial. Forlizzi and Fred Battista were sentenced in September 2016.
In March 2008, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against six individuals, including Janet Vaccari, Laura Battista and William Penta, for Insurance Fraud, Larceny, and Conspiracy relating to false automobile insurance property damage claims. The other individuals charged were Deana Pistone, David Forlizzi, and Fred Battista. The indictments alleged an insurance fraud scheme that involved intentionally damaging automobiles, falsely reporting that the vehicles had been involved in accidents, and collecting property damage proceeds from motor vehicle insurance companies.
The investigation was conducted in 2007 by the AG’s Office after the matter was referred by the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau.
During the investigation, Vaccari, Pistone and Penta gave recorded statements to investigators that Fred Battista and Forlizzi arranged the insurance fraud. In November 2008, Vaccari, Pistone, Penta, and Laura Battista pleaded guilty to conspiring with Fred Battista and Forlizzi to carry out the fraud. In March 2012, during the trial of Fred Battista and David Forlizzi, Vaccari, Penta and Laura Battista gave false testimony in direct contradiction to their prior recorded statements and guilty pleas, that they had initiated the false insurance claims totally on their own and without the involvement or knowledge of Fred Battista or Forlizzi. Pistone, who had given a recorded statement implicating Forlizzi in the insurance fraud, could not be located for trial.
At the conclusion of the Commonwealth’s evidence in the 2012 trial, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina L. Quinlan entered verdicts of Not Guilty in favor of Battista and Forlizzi, and referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office to investigate for perjury, subornation of perjury, and obstruction of justice.
The AG’s investigation uncovered evidence that Forlizzi and Fred Battista had procured perjured testimony at trial from Vaccari, Laura Battista and Penta, paid thousands of dollars to Laura Battista to obtain her false testimony, and paid money to Vaccari to keep Pistone out of state so she would be unavailable to testify at the trial. Among other evidence, investigators learned that Forlizzi, Fred Battista, Vaccari and Laura Battista had met shortly before the trial, to concoct the false story that Vaccari and Laura Battista would testify to as to how one of the false auto insurance claims had come about. Investigators also uncovered a text message that Battista had sent to Penta during the trial, in which Battista told Penta: “Tell Laura stick to her story.”
In July 2012, Forlizzi, Fred Battista, Vaccari, Pistone, Laura Battista, and Penta were arraigned in Boston Municipal Court, and were charged with perjury, corruption of witnesses and conspiracy. In November, 2012 all six defendants were indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on obstruction of justice, corruption of witnesses, perjury and conspiracy charges. On March 29, 2016 Vaccari, Laura Battista and Penta pleaded guilty to all of the charges pending against them.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Peter A. Mullin, Kristen A. Stone and Anuj Khetarpal, with the assistance of Investigator Philip Mantyla, Victim Witness Advocate John Malone, investigators from the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau, and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office.