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Lawyers: RI client truthful when he pleaded guilty

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Two lawyers testified in federal court on Tuesday that they believe their former client was truthful when he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy in a case alleging he used the identities of terminally ill people to illegally obtain tens of millions of dollars through variable annuities and so-called “death-put” bonds that would pay out when a person died.

Joseph Caramadre, an estate planning lawyer, is trying to withdraw the guilty plea he made mid-trial in the case in November. He was charged in a 66-count indictment along with a former employee, who also pleaded guilty. His new lawyers have said he should be allowed to withdraw the plea because there’s evidence he’s innocent and because the lawyers who represented him put on an inadequate defense, among other issues.

Michael Lepizzera and Anthony Traini, the lawyers who represented Caramadre at trial, testified on Tuesday that they believe, based on Caramadre’s own admissions, that some of the allegations against him were true.

Lepizzera said Caramadre made a number of “glaring admissions” to him that were damaging and “would constitute guilt.”

This week’s testimony has presented the unusual circumstance of defense lawyers called by the prosecution and testifying in open court about private conversations they had with their client and their belief in his guilt or innocence. Lepizzera said he opposed Caramadre’s wish to withdraw his guilty plea and said multiple times that he was uncomfortable sitting on the witness stand and being asked by Caramadre’s new lawyer whether he thought Caramadre was guilty.

“That’s why I don’t want to be testifying here today and why I didn’t want this motion to be filed because now all of this is out,” he said.

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