NASHUA — Legal counsel for Kathryn Vitale, the former city alderman who is accused of witness tampering, is maintaining his client’s innocence.
“We are going to do everything we can to defend her, and we look forward to demonstrating that she is innocent of these charges,” attorney Joe Fricano said Friday at the Hillsborough County Superior Court.
Vitale, who was indicted last month on two felony charges of conspiracy to witness tampering, did not appear in court on Friday as scheduled, but instead waived her arraignment proceeding.
A bail hearing will likely be scheduled in the near future to address Vitale’s bail, according to Fricano, who stressed that his client has no criminal history.
“Miss Vitale has never been arrested before in her entire life, to my knowledge,” he said. “She has been a public servant, and she is an active member of the community.”
According to Fricano, Vitale is very concerned about the allegations, and did not anticipate the indictments that were recently handed up by a Hillsborough County Superior Court grand jury.
“She did not see this coming,” said Fricano, adding he is unaware whether police questioned her prior to bringing forward the allegations.
Since being indicted, Vitale, 54, of 8 Massasoit Rd., has taken a leave of absence from her position on the Nashua Zoning Board of Adjustment where she currently sits as an alternate member.
“I am sure she wants to make sure that she preserves the public trust, and until she is cleared of these charges, she probably thinks that is the best thing to do,” said Fricano, from the law firm Chadwick-Fricano-Weber of Merrimack.
Vitale also served as a city alderman until she lost her re-election bid for the Ward 1 seat last November.
Police allege that Vitale, sometime between Nov. 27, 2013 and Feb. 19, 2014, conspired with Ernesto Rivera, 48, and Rene Lavoie, 52, to persuade Elvira Kersey to recant her statement in an assault case against Rivera.
Kersey is a key witness in a case against Rivera, who is currently incarcerated in connection with various weapons, assault and drug charges, according to court documents.
Rivera is accused of assaulting two women, including Kersey, during a dispute last August at a Nashua restaurant that resulted in six domestic violence assault charges.
Rivera is now facing additional charges after being indicted in March on five counts of witness tampering and two counts of criminal liability to witness tampering in connection with Vitale’s case.
Lavoie has also been indicted on two counts of conspiracy to witness tampering for the same incident, says court documents.
If convicted, Vitale could face a maximum of seven years in prison for each offense, and a $4,000 fine.