A Baltimore attorney was arrested and charged with intimidating his client Tuesday afternoon for telling her she shouldn’t testify at a rape trial because it would make her vulnerable to deportation.
The attorney, Christos Vasiliades, told the alleged rape victim that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be at the trial, and because of new Trump administration policies, she and her husband would be deported.
Both Vasiliades and the interpreter, Edgar Rodriguez, were arraigned Wednesday in Baltimore’s Circuit Court on charges of witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. The attorney allegedly offered them each $3,000 to skip the trial.
Both men pleaded not guilty.
Vasiliades and Rodriguez met the couple at a restaurant in Baltimore City on April 11 and indicated they would offer compensation for skipping court, according to the indictment. Vasiliades also allegedly told the husband, “I think you should find him [the defendant] and kick his ass, personally,” according to NBC News.
The couple felt threatened after that first encounter and looked to law enforcement for help, according to the Associated Press, who arranged for them to record a phone call with Vasiliades.
The four met again on May 18, when Vasiliades told the alleged victim and her husband that ICE was “looking at this case” and that the victim could face consequences if ICE took her into custody.
Vasiliades and Rodriguez have both been charged with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation and could face over 200 years in prison.
Immigration advocates and law enforcement officers have been more vocal since Trump’s inauguration about the impact the new administration policies will have on crime victims, arguing they will be more likely to opt out of reporting crimes to authorities for fear of being deported.
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