Entrapment Is Claimed in Plot to Kill Judge, AUSA

, New York Law Journal

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Attorneys for a man accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and prosecutor say they will argue to the jury that their client was entrapped. Joseph Romano's attorneys submitted notice it would advance the defense on Sunday, a day before jury selection began.

Romano is charged with conspiring to have Eastern District Judge Joseph Bianco and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz murdered for the pair's involvement in a coin fraud case where Romano pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say Romano schemed with a codefendant and an undercover officer posing as a hit man after the government learned Romano was looking for someone to carry out the murders (NYLJ, Oct. 10, 2012).

But in court papers, the defense said it would assert entrapment in light of its review of discovery materials produced by the government and prosecutors' decision not to call cooperating informant Gerald Machacek as a witness in its case-in-chief.

"It is the defense position that Machacek induced the defendant to enter into the conspiracies charged in the instant indictment, and that Romano would not have entered into the conspiracies if not for being entrapped," one of his attorneys, Michael Bachrach, wrote in United States v. Romano, 12-cr-691.

Southern District Judge John Keenan has been specially assigned to the case and is questioning prospective jurors individually. The jurors will be anonymous.

Romano is also represented by George Goltzer of Manhattan. The prosecution is represented by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marshall Miller and Una Dean.

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