A Baltimore defense attorney was caught on tape telling a rape victim that she could be deported under President Donald Trump's immigration policies if she showed up in court to testify against his client, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
"You know how things are with Trump's laws now. Someone goes to court and, boom, they get taken away," Christos Vasiliades allegedly told the victim and her husband during a May 18 hearing.
Instead of courtroom justice, he offered the couple $3,000, a second-hand apology and advice that they find the defendant and assault him, the indictment alleged.
The charges come amid a climate of fear in immigrant communities. Law enforcement and advocates across the country have expressed concern that the undocumented are not reporting crimes because they fear being deported under new policies.
Vasiliades — who boasts of a "stellar reputation" on his website — could not be reached for immediate comment on the allegation he used those policies to threatened a crime victim. He was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.
He was representing Mario Aguilar-Delossantos in a rape case when he called the victim's husband in April and said things had become "complicated" and asked to meet.
That night, he and an associate serving as a Spanish interpreter sat down with the couple at a restaurant and warned them that immigration agents would be in the courtroom for their client and that they could be deported, too, prosecutors charged.
The couple reported the incident to law enforcement and authorities were listening in when the husband called Vasiliades a few weeks later and said he wanted to meet to talk more about the offer.
The next day, the group gathered again in an office, and this time the husband was wearing a wire when the attorney warned that his client would finger the victim as someone who is in the country illegally.
"My guy's going to be like, 'I'm here, but she is too!'" the lawyer said, according to the indictment. "They're going to ask, 'You have your documents?' Then everybody's f-----."
He said that on the trial date, the couple should wait outside the courthouse, where the attorney's associate, Edgar Rodriguez, would be holding the cash, authorities alleged. If the case was thrown out because the victim didn't show up, the lawyer would emerge and give a thumb's up so they could collect the money, the indictment said.
Vasiliades said that "back home" in Greece, the matter would have been handled with street justice. "I think you should find him and kick his ass, personally," the attorney allegedly told the husband.
He also cautioned the couple not to say anything about his proposal on the phone, and collected their cellphones during the meeting. However, he apparently failed to checked to see if they were wearing recording devices.