Lawyer: Second Witness Recants in Raymond Case
NEW YORK (AP) _ A second prosecution witness has recanted testimony in the murder case against an FBI informant who helped touch off municipal corruption scandals in New York and Chicago, the informant’s lawyer said Thursday.
Attorney William Aronwald said the recantation, the second this week in the case against his client, Michael Raymond, virtually ensures that the Florida charge will be dropped.
″I’ve been a prosecutor myself, and I think they’ll have to ask that the charges be dismissed,″ Aronwald said in a telephone interview from Washington. Raymond’s trial for the 1975 murder of Adelaide Stiles is scheduled to begin next month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Raymond, 58, who has used the alias Michael Burnett, is in jail in Broward County, Fla. He also has been investigated in connection with the death or disappearance of five other people.
Posing as the free-spending agent of a New York City collection agency, Raymond helped launch a federal probe of political corruption that brought down two of New York’s most powerful politicians: Queens Borough President Donald Manes, who committed suicide, and Bronx Democratic leader Stanley Friedman, who was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy.
In Chicago, Raymond, who agreed to serve as an FBI undercover operative after his 1984 arrest on weapons charges, helped federal prosecutors launch Operation Incubator, a probe of City Hall corruption that yielded indictments against 15 people.
Aronwald said earlier this week that one witness against Raymond in the Florida case, Vernon Frazier, had admitted that he lied when he told authorities Raymond ordered him and another man to kill Mrs. Stiles.
On Wednesday, Rico Fiorini, who had told authorities he introduced Frazier to Raymond in 1974, also changed his story, said Aronwald. Fiorini told Assistant State Attorney Charles Morton he does not even know Raymond, the lawyer said.
Frazier now says he did not meet Raymond until 1983, and that he was forced to lie about the 1974 meeting and Raymond’s involvement in the death of Mrs. Stiles by a former Fort Lauderdale police detective, Aronwald said.
Frazier’s attorney, Steve Michaelson, confirmed that his client planned to withdraw his 1986 guilty plea in the death of Mrs. Stiles. Frazier, who said he shot her on a boat off Fort Lauderdale, is serving a life sentence.
″He’s also prepared to testify as to why he confessed and why he waited this long to come clean,″ Michaelson said.
Morton, the prosecutor, said through an assistant he could not discuss the case this week. Aronwald said he was told to expect some action on the recantations next week.