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Tuesday, 20 September 2016 21:02

Former MA Auto Shop Employees Sentenced to Prison

Two auto body shop employees have been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to corrupting witnesses and making bribes for false testimony. 

This was part of a conspiracy to obtain acquittals at a March 2012 automobile insurance fraud criminal trial, Attorney General Maura Healey announced on September 15. On September 13, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert B. Gordon sentenced Fred Battista, age 54, of Winthrop, to two to three years in state prison. Judge Gordon sentenced David Forlizzi, age 56, of Peabody, to three to four years in state prison the week prior.


Forlizzi and Battista pleaded guilty in July and August, respectively, to charges of Corrupting a Witness, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Conspiracy.


In March 2008, a Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against six individuals, including Fred Battista and David Forlizzi--who ran Collision Headquarters, Inc., an auto body shop in Winthrop--for Insurance Fraud, Larceny, and Conspiracy relating to false automobile insurance property damage claims. The other individuals charged were Janet Vaccari, Deana Pistone, Laura Battista, and William Penta. The indictments focused on an alleged insurance fraud scheme that involved intentionally damaging automobiles, falsely reporting that the vehicles had been involved in accidents, and collecting property damage proceeds from motor vehicle insurance companies.


During the investigation, Vaccari, Pistone and Penta gave recorded statements to investigators that Fred Battista and Forlizzi arranged the insurance fraud. In November 2008, Vaccari, Pistone, Penta, and Laura Battista pleaded guilty to conspiring with Fred Battista and Forlizzi to carry out the fraud. In March 2012, during the trial of Fred Battista and David Forlizzi, Vaccari, Penta and Laura Battista gave false testimony in direct contradiction to their prior recorded statements and guilty pleas, that they had initiated the false insurance claims totally on their own and without the involvement or knowledge of Fred Battista or Forlizzi. Pistone, who had given a recorded statement implicating Forlizzi in the insurance fraud, could not be located for trial.


At the conclusion of the Commonwealth’s evidence in the 2012 trial, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina L. Quinlan entered verdicts of Not Guilty in favor of Battista and Forlizzi, and referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office to investigate for perjury, subornation of perjury, and obstruction of justice.

The AG’s investigation uncovered evidence that Forlizzi and Fred Battista had procured perjured testimony at trial from Vaccari, Laura Battista and Penta, paid thousands of dollars to Laura Battista to obtain her false testimony, and paid money to Vaccari to keep Pistone out of state so she would be unavailable to testify at the trial. Among other evidence, investigators learned that Forlizzi, Fred Battista, Vaccari and Laura Battista had met shortly before the trial, to concoct the false story that Vaccari and Laura Battista would testify to as to how one of the false auto insurance claims had come about. Investigators also uncovered a text message that Battista had sent to Penta during the trial, in which Battista told Penta: “Tell Laura stick to her story.”


In July 2012, Forlizzi, Fred Battista, Vaccari, Pistone, Laura Battista, and Penta were arraigned in Boston Municipal Court and were charged with perjury, corruption of witnesses and conspiracy. In November, 2012, all six defendants were indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on obstruction of justice, corruption of witnesses, perjury and conspiracy charges. On March 29, 2012 Vacarri, Laura Battista and Penta pleaded guilty to all of the charges pending against them. Their sentencings are scheduled for October 7, 2016.

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