Informant Says He Acted to Protect Beheading Targets

, New York Law Journal

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An inmate who told authorities about Joseph Romano's alleged plot to decapitate a federal judge and prosecutor insisted Thursday that he relayed the information out of concern for the officials' safety, rather than to get a reduced sentence.

"I was scared to death someone was going to be killed over here. It was just bothering me horribly inside," informant Gerald Machacek testified at the trial of Romano, who is accused of plotting to have Eastern District Judge Joseph Bianco (See Profile) and Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz murdered for their roles in Romano's guilty plea in a coin fraud case.

The defense, which called Machacek to the stand, maintains the government entrapped Romano through Machacek, who hoped to avoid his own lengthy sentence on charges including robbery, money laundering and gun possession charges (NYLJ, Jan. 10).

Under defense questioning, Machacek confirmed that he has a lengthy criminal record and acknowledged having a cooperation agreement with the government.

But Machacek insisted that as he heard Romano talk at Nassau County's Correctional Center, it never occurred to him he could benefit from informing the government.

"I was actually really scared," he said, adding later, "I think he's nuts, but I think he's serious nuts."

When both sides finished questioning Machacek, Romano could be overheard telling his attorneys he wanted to testify. But after a lunch break, Romano told Southern District Judge John Keenan (See Profile) that he would not take the stand. Both sides rested their cases in United States v. Romano, 12-cr-691, which resumes Tuesday.

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