The six individuals arraigned in July of this year were involved in an auto insurance fraud scheme based out of Winthrop
Attorney General Martha Coakely announced that the six individuals arraigned on July 19th of this year for throwing a criminal trial have now been indicted.
“We allege that these defendants were involved in a scheme involving bribery and perjury that undermined the criminal justice system,” AG Coakley said. “It is vital that witnesses testify truthfully under oath to maintain the integrity of the judicial process.”
A Suffolk Grand Jury indicted the ring members yesterday on the following charges:
David Forlizzi, 52, of West Peabody: Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Subornation of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, Conspiracy and Habitual Offender.
Fred Battista, 50, of Winthrop: Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Subornation of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.
Janet Vaccari, 51, of Peabody: Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.
Laura Battista, 63, of Revere: Charged with Corruption of a Witness, Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.
William Penta, 49, of Salem: Charged with Perjury, Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy.
Deana Pistone, 29, of Wakefield: Charged with Corruption of a Witness and Conspiracy.
In 2007, the Insurance Fraud Bureau of Massachusetts alerted the Attorney General’s Office about a potential auto insurance fraud scheme run out of Collision Headquarters in Winthrop. After an investigation, authorities determined that these six individuals were intentionally damaging automobiles and then fraudulently billing insurance companies for the damages caused by the false accidents.
Subsequently, each ring member was indicted for Insurance Fraud, Larceny, Conspiracy, and other offenses in 2008. Before the indictment, however, three of the ring members, Vaccari, Penta and Pistone recorded statements with investigators identifying Forlizzi and Fred Battista, the two who ran Collision Headquarters, Inc., as the masterminds behind the fraud. After making those statements, Vaccari, Penta, Pistone and Laura Battista pled guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.
In 2012, at the trial of David Forlizzi and Fred Battista, however, Vaccari, Pistone and Penta proceeded to give testimony in direct contradiction to the previously recorded statements they had given to investigators. They also contradicted their 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.
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 her inability to testify against Forlizzi at trial. Investigators say the evidence also shows the individuals coordinated their actions via text messages and phone calls prior to the 2012 trial.
This past July, all of the individuals still remaining in the Commonwealth were taken into custody. Following yesterday’s indictment, the individuals are due back in court on Tuesday, November 20th for arraignment on the new charges stemming from the intent to throw a criminal trial.