Lakin may have attempted witness intimidation by sending fax

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 2, 2008, 8:15am

Tom Lakin

Thomas Lakin violated a court order forbidding him from having contact with government witnesses when he faxed a hand-written note and grand jury testimony to the attorney representing a witness.

A federal prosecutor indicated in a Dec. 31 court filing that Lakin, who is charged with cocaine distribution and transporting an underage male across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity, may have been trying to intimidate the witness.

Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Clark filed a notice with U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert and Lakin's attorneys that the government has decided not to hand over 1,000 pages of grand jury testimony to the once powerful Madison County attorney.

According to Clark, he was preparing to send the massive amount of discovery to Lakin's attorney, Scott Rosenblum of St. Louis. But a phone conversation with a government witness and the witness's attorney changed his mind.

Clark alleges that Lakin contacted the witness, who was set to be deposed Dec. 17, by directly sending a fax to the government witness through his lawyer after Lakin personally called the attorney.

Clark claims Lakin explained to the attorney that he became aware of the attorney's representation of the witness after Lakin had read the government's discovery which consisted of the witness's grand jury testimony and his statements to agents.

According to Clark, Lakin also told the attorney that the defense team would like to interview the witness in advance of the deposition and also asked the attorney if he would like a copy of the witness's grand jury testimony and statements to investigators because the government did not provide the material to the attorney or the witness.

After that conversation, Clark claims Lakin faxed the attorney 30 pages of documents which included the witness's grand jury testimony, three witness statements and four pages of handwritten notes that appeared to have been written by Lakin.

"The notes appear to contain possible lines of attack that could be used against the witness in cross examination at the deposition; however, some lines of attack would likely be inadmissible, which suggests the possibility that the notes were sent with the purpose of intimidation or embarrassment," Clark wrote.

"On the other hand, the notes also include a statement that incriminates the defendant himself – i.e., Lakin claims that he received cocaine from the witness: 'Met him in the summer of 2005. All the dope is downtown. Some times in [sic] would call to see what's available, because I knew he would be there till the bell rang. Yes, there were some exchanges downtown, friendld [sic] sharing from time to time, but as I remember it, he came by two or three times - with the dope. It would be when I didn't have any, or had already been downtown, and nothing was available.'"

Clark argues Lakin "ignored" the court order when he sent the fax, and even though the contact was indirect, Lakin, as an attorney, must have known that the witness's attorney would feel compelled to share the documents with his client.

"Lakin could have easily asked his own attorneys to make contact with the witness's lawyer, and to provide the documents if they thought it appropriate; but Lakin felt compelled to make personal contact with the witness's lawyer, and in the government's view i.e. therefore in violation of the court's order," Clark wrote.

Clark also claims that one of Lakin's other attorneys, Gilbert Sison, informed him that Lakin said the inclusion of the note with the fax was accidental.

"Under the circumstances, the undersigned is skeptical of Lakin's veracity and believes that there is a possibility that Lakin's inclusion of the note may have been purposeful, intended to harass and embarrass the witness," Clark wrote.

"In any event, due to Defendant Lakin's release of grand jury material and other documents, and his arguable violation of this Court's order to have no contact with witnesses, the Government will retain further discovery."

Clark states that Lakin's attorneys can come to his office to review the discovery in his office however the physical documents will not be released and will not be made available for copying.

In May, Gilbert informed Lakin that witness harassment would not be tolerated after Clark informed the judge that he has evidence that one of Lakin's investigators engaged in harassing and intimidating conduct toward at least one of the government's potential witnesses.

Lakin's trial is set to begin on March 17.

He was indicted in April 2007 by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. Lakin was charged with eight counts involving cocaine distribution and transporting an underage male across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.

On Nov. 14, a superseding indictment was returned against Lakin which increased the total number of charges against Lakin from eight to 18.

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