Updated 06/06/2012 06:11 PM
Lawyer arrested, accused of bribing witness
A Syracuse defense attorney found himself before a judge on Wednesday, facing serious charges of attempting to tamper with a witness. YNN's Bill Carey says the case has led to an intense investigation of potential ties between that effort and a drug ring operating out of Puerto Rico.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Police and prosecutors believe it amounted to a hit job. A gunman opening fire on two men along South Geddes Street. One of the victims died.
It took time, but eventually authorities arrested Emilier Carrasquillo-Fuentes, 25, on a murder charge. They say Carrasquillo-Fuentes had ties to a group dealing in drugs in Puerto Rico. They have taken steps to guard the identity of witnesses in the case. But then came word that someone might be contacting those witnesses.
“We received information regarding possible witness tampering and the Syracuse Police Department and my office have been working on this investigation for the last several weeks,” said Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick says a local lawyer, 51-year-old Ezequiel Neuman, has now been charged with bribing a witness. They claim a recording shows him offering someone $50,000 not to testify.
The District Attorney and Syracuse Police will continue their investigation. They say they want to find out how far the alleged plot to tamper with witnesses had gone.
A grand jury will have other questions, as well. Neuman is not the attorney representing Carrasquillo-Fuentes. Was he enlisted by someone else on behalf of the murder suspect?
Fitzpatrick said, “ Many of his clients are Hispanics. And many of them are drug related offenses. Now, whether he attracts those because of his ability to speak Spanish or for other reasons, is something we're still looking at.”
The DA says this is a case that deserves swift attention.
“I know people have jaded views of lawyers, but I think this is a relatively isolated incident. But, as I say, we are going to investigate this much, much more deeply and see where the evidence leads us,” Fitzpatrick said.
And whether the evidence leads beyond just Ezequiel Neuman.