White-Collar Crime

Attorney Witness in Obstruction Case Testifies He Pretended Friend's Law Firm Was His Own

Although he had worked for his friend, Aristotle R. Matsa, in the past, George Pappas now admits he didn’t even have a key to the Matsa law office until 2004.

But, to protect Matsa from losing the law in a divorce from his second wife, Pappas told the feds he had owned the legal practice since 1987, the Columbus Dispatch reports. That led to Pappas’ guilty plea two years ago on a charge of lying to a grand jury that could get him a five-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.

Now Pappas is testifying in federal court in Ohio as a witness in the trial of Matsa, who is facing charges including obstructing justice, tax fraud and witness tampering. Prosecutors contend Matsa sought to disguise illegal funds transfers as well as his assets and income by purporting to put his law firm into others’ hands.

The trial has been going about a week and is expected to last another month.

Matsa’s mother also faces an obstruction conspiracy charge.

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