Five arrested in alleged scheme to rig Suffolk Superior Court trial

Five people were arrested this morning in connection with an alleged scheme to rig the outcome of a Suffolk Superior Court trial, the attorney general’s office announced.

David Forlizzi, 52, of West Peabody, Janet Vaccari, 51, of Peabody, Deana Pistone, 29, of Wakefield, Laura Battista, 63, of Revere,and William Penta, 49, of Salem, face charges in the case, the attorney general’s office said in a statement. Each faces a different set of charges, reflecting their alleged roles in the scheme.

The charges against them include corruption of a witness, perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy.

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All five defendants were originally indicted in 2008 for insurance fraud and other charges stemming from an investigation into an alleged scheme that involved billing auto insurance companies for car accidents that never actually happened, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office. Vaccari, Pistone, Penta, and Battista pleaded guilty in that case.

When it was Forlizzi’s turn to be tried, in March, along with Fred Battista, who is Laura Battista’s stepson, the conspirators allegedly schemed to testify falsely so that the two men would be acquitted.

An investigation also determined that before and during his trial, Forlizzi paid thousands of dollars to Vaccari, prosecutors said.

In turn, Vaccari allegedly sent the money out of state to keep Pistone, her daughter, hidden and keep her from having to testify against Forlizzi, authorities said. Pistone could not be located for the trial, Coakley’s office said.

All five defendants pleaded not guilty in Boston Municipal Court today to the trial rigging charges and are expected back in court on Aug. 29.