Attorneys And Two Legal Assistants Indicted
JAN 5 -- Boston, MA... Two Rhode Island attorneys and two legal assistants were charged today in federal court with conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, and making false statements.
June W. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in New England and United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and, announced today that JOSEPH A. BEVILACQUA, JR., age 57, of West Warwick, Rhode Island; JOHN M. CICILLINE, age 49, of Cranston, Rhode Island; JUAN GIRALDO, age 41, formerly of East Greenwich, Rhode Island; and LISA TORRES, age 39, of Cranston, Rhode Island, were charged in an Indictment with conspiracy to obstruct justice. CICILLINE and TORRES were charged in separate counts with obstruction of justice and making false statements, and CICILLINE was charged with an additional count of making false statements.
“Today’s charges should make it clear that justice is not for sale,” commented U.S. Attorney Sullivan. “It is especially troubling that these allegations involve lawyers - who are expected to hold to the highest ethical standards and conduct themselves with honesty and integrity.”
BEVILACQUA and CICILLINE are criminal defense attorneys. GIRALDO and TORRES are legal assistants.
The Indictment alleges that in December 2002, BEVILACQUA and CICILLINE began representing a couple who were charged with drug trafficking in Massachusetts federal district court. The couple were facing minimum sentences of 10 years’ imprisonment unless they were willing and able to cooperate with the government in the prosecution of others. The Indictment alleges that BEVILACQUA, CICILLINE, and GIRALDO told the couple that for a large sum of money, GIRALDO would provide information and cooperation that the couple could falsely pass off to the government as their own. The Indictment alleges that the couple paid BEVILACQUA and GIRALDO a total of $100,000, mostly in cash, in exchange for this promise of third-party cooperation. The Indictment alleges that, after receiving the money, BEVILACQUA, CICILLINE, and GIRALDO began pressuring the couple to plead guilty, telling them that only by pleading guilty could they take advantage of GIRALDO’s third-party information and cooperation.
According to the Indictment, BEVILACQUA and GIRALDO failed to provide the promised third-party cooperation, and the clients refused to plead guilty. The Indictment alleges that CICILLINE told the couple that if they gave him an additional $50,000, he would make sure that BEVILACQUA and GIRALDO made good on their promise or would find some other way to help them. The Indictment alleges that CICILLINE then enlisted TORRES to provide third-party information and cooperation that the couple could pass off as their own or otherwise receive credit for. The Indictment alleges that in an effort to advance this scheme, CICILLINE and TORRES both falsely told an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston that TORRES was a close friend of CICILLINE’s client. Among other things, the Indictment alleges, CICILLINE falsely told the Assistant U.S. Attorney that TORRES had known the client for two or three years, when in fact CICILLINE himself had first introduced TORRES to the client only a few months earlier.
“A license to practice law and knowledge of the law does not allow you to break the law,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Stansbury. “DEA pursues investigations to expose and bring to justice all who participate or aid in drug trafficking - from street dealing to the offices of corrupt lawyers. As these attorneys have learned, you can go from being a member of the Bar to being behind bars.”
BEVILACQUA, CICILLINE and TORRES were all arrested today on the charges. CICILLINE and TORRES will appear in court later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joyce London Alexander. BEVILACQUA will appear in court next week, however, an exact date and time has not yet been set. GIRALDO is presently serving a federal sentence in an unrelated drug case and will be summonsed into court at a later date. The charge of obstruction justice carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and each of the other charges carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment. All of the charges also carry a 3 year term of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.