City defense attorney accused of offering rape victim $3k to skip trial

Also threatened deportation
Posted at 5:11 PM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 18:15:07-04

Christos Vasiliades was in Baltimore Circuit Court Tuesday, on the way to his client's rape trial when he found himself in handcuffs.

The 38-year-old defense attorney is accused of trying to get his defendant off the hook by trying to scare-off and pay-off the rape victim.

"We are not going to tolerate this kind of conduct from attorneys, from anybody else, if we find witness intimidation we're going to prosecute it as vigorously as we possibly can," said Maryland Attorney General, Brian Frosh.

The indictment outlines how Vasiliades and interpreter Edgar Rodriguez called the sexual assault victim and her husband in April saying the case had gotten "more complicated," and they wanted to meet to discuss everything.

The couple went to the authorities and agreed to wear a recording device during the meeting.

According to court paperwork, the group got together last Thursday.  Vasiliades and Rodriguez saying "…the defendant could provide them with $3,000 in cash if they did not show up to court and the case got thrown out."

Then the lawyer and interpreter started talking about the current climate for immigrants in the country, citing recent arrests by immigration and customs enforcement agents.

"He suggested with the Trump Administration if the witness testified against the defendant that she could be deported," Frosh said.

Rodriguez is quoted as saying "You know how things are with Trump's laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away."

A very real fear for immigrants right now.

"We've written to the Department of Homeland Security and asked them not to arrest people at courthouses for precisely this reason,” said Frosh.  “And I’ve gotten no response from them, gotten no response from the Trump Administration, it's a very counterproductive policy."

We reached out to the attorneys for Vasiliades and Rodriguez.  In a statement, Billy Murphy says:

"The state has the enormous burden of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Unless and until the State proves each and every allegation to a near certitude, Mr. Vasiliades is innocent."

Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joseph Murtha tells ABC 2 News:

“It is too early for anyone to reach a conclusion regarding Mr. Rodriguez's alleged involvement in the activities that have resulted in the filing of criminal charges against him and Mr. Vasiliades. Until all of the facts are considered, including the belief that he acted solely as a translator, it is unfair to conclude that he was a co-conspirator intentionally engaged in the alleged criminal activity.” 

Frosh says the rape victim was brave to report the shady attempts by the lawyer and interpreter.

"I think we owe the victim here a debt of gratitude, she was victimized twice and had the courage to stand up both times and, as I say, that makes us all safer."

The indictment also says Vasiliades told the couple they should take the cash and then track down his client telling them to "find him and wear him out."

Vasiliades and Rodriguez have both been released, their trial is set for September.