Criminal Justice

Defense lawyer's advice was 'playbook on how to lie without getting caught,' sentencing judge says

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A Rhode Island judge cited a defense lawyer’s taped conversation when sentencing the lawyer on Wednesday for bribing a witness.

Lawyer Gerard Donley received a six-year sentence, the Providence Journal reports. The lawyer was convicted in June on charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Donley was accused in a plot to bribe a stabbing victim, convicted felon Michael Drepaul, not to testify against Donley’s client, the alleged perpetrator.

At trial, Donley had testified that $6,000 he paid to Drepaul’s girlfriend was intended to compensate Drepaul for his injuries. But at Donley’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Judge Robert Krause quoted a tape of Donley’s coaching session with Drepaul about how to impede prosecutor questioning.

“You could be unsure of things … you know what I mean?” Donley said. “So, it’s quite, it’s fine if you’re like, ‘Look it happened so fast I don’t remember.’ Or, ‘It could have been this way, could have been that. I’m not really sure who was there, who did it.’ ”

Krause said the advice was “a playbook on how to lie without getting caught.”

The Providence Journal says defense lawyers and lawyers from the Attorney General’s office crowded the courtroom to watch the sentencing. “During his 26 years in the field,” the newspaper says, “Donley earned a reputation as a passionate advocate, often for defendants who couldn’t afford lawyers. At the time of his conviction in June, he was involved in 84 active cases in state courts, according to court records.”

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