The charges included Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy
Five family members were arraigned on July 19, 2012 in connection with an alleged conspiracy to throw a criminal trial. The following were the individuals recently arraigned in Boston Municipal Court:
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.
According to the Attorney General’s office, the latest charges follow indictments returned against the same five individuals in 2008 and stem from an alleged insurance fraud scheme the Insurance Fraud Bureau referred to the AG’s office in 2007.
Investigators say that between May 2006 through June 2007, Forlizzi and Battista, employees of Winthrop Collision Center paid individuals to submit fraudulent motor vehicle insurance claims. Apparently, the two then collected insurance money from the staged accidents.
One of the staged accidents involved Janet Vaccari, who submitted a claim to Plymouth Rock Assurance stating that she had been involved in an auto accident involving Laura Battista. As a result of the information given to Plymouth Rock, both women received payments from the carrier. After “repairing” her vehicle with Winthrop Collision Center, Vaccari then signed over her insurance check from Plymouth Rock to the auto body shop. During an investigation into the fraud ring, authorities said they uncovered evidence showing that Forlizzi assisted Vaccari in staging the auto accident with the help of Battista and her stepson, Fred Battista.
In a second claim also submitted to Plymouth Rock, Deana Pistone alleged that her vehicle had been vandalized. She eventually withdrew the claim when Plymouth Rock began an investigation upon learning that Ms. Pistone had also brought her car to Winthrop Collision Center. She later went on to admit that with Forlizzi’s help she had submitted the false insurance claim.
A third claim involving the same five individuals had Mr. Penta submit a claim to his insurance carrier National Grange Mutual Insurance. Mr. Penta claimed that he struck a parked vehicle which incidentally belonged to Laura Battista. National Grange paid out the claims for damage to both Penta and Ms. Battista’s vehicle. Mr. Penta also filed a Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) claims for injuries he claimed to have sustained in the accident. During a subsequent investigation, it was determined that Mr. Penta knew Fred Battista, Laura Battista’s stepson, prior to the alleged accident involving damage to Ms. Battista’s vehicle.
As a result of the investigation, Vaccari, Pistone, Penta and Battista all plead guilty to conspiring with both Forlizzi and Battista to carry out insurance fraud.
In 2012, before the trial of David Forlizzi and Fred Battista, Vaccari, Pistone and Penta provided investigators with recorded statements stating that it had been both Forlizzi and Fred Battista who had arranged the fraud scheme while running the Winthrop Collision Center.
During the two men’s trial in March 2012, however, the three individuals proceeded to give testimony in direct contradiction to the previously recorded statements they had given to investigators. They also contradicted the individuals own prior guilty pleas. Essentially, the three individuals said that neither David Forlizzi nor Fred Battista were aware of the fraud nor had arranged it. Ms. Pistone did not give testimony having fled the Commonwealth prior to the March 2012 trial.
As a result, the trial judge discharged the jury recommending a new investigation into whether or not perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice had occurred, including whether or not a fraud had been committed upon the Court. The announcement the arraignment of the five family members is a result of that investigation.
Investigators believe that Forlizzi had paid thousands of dollars to Vaccari just prior to the trial to influence her testimony. In addition, they believe Vaccari then sent that money to an out-of-state entity in order to keep Pistone outside the Commonwealth ensuring his inability to testify against Forlizzi at trial. Investigators say the evidence also shows the individuals having coordinated their actions via text messages and phone calls prior to the trial.
While the investigation into the Corruption, Perjury, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy charges remains ongoing, the five individuals arraigned last week are due back in the Boston Municipal Court in late August.