Attorneys for a co-defendant in the high-profile drug case that took down a top aide to Mayor Thomas M. Menino want to know whether pressure to testify drove the prosecution's star witness to kill himself.
When Anthony Cristallo, 41, goes to trial on drug-dealing charges today, the U.S. Attorney's Office hopes to make use of video and taped phone calls the late Mark J. Allen, 43, of Peabody recorded of and about Cristallo for the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2009.
The day he died of carbon-monoxide poisoning - on the eve of Cristallo's original May 17 trial date - Allen was a no-show at a court hearing where he was due to plead guilty to drug charges. Cristallo, a convicted killer, was a co-defendant of John Forbes, 31, Menino's liaison in East Boston until his arrest in 2009. Forbes pleaded guilty last fall to drug charges and received five years of supervised probation.
In court papers, Cristallo's lawyer Barry P. Wilson asked federal Judge Rya W. Zobel to order prosecutors to turn over files on Allen so he can determine whether "pressures caused by this case are what ultimately led to (Allen's) death." Prosecutors have asked Zobel to keep jurors from learning Allen took his own life, calling it "irrelevant" and "highly misleading for the jurors." However, they do want jurors told his death is the reason he's not appearing to testify as a cooperating witness.
Cristallo is accused of selling Allen 115 oxycodone pills worth $4,370 and a sample of marijuana May 18, 2009, in East Boston while the DEA had wired Allen with a video recorder. Wilson wants that video barred as evidence.
Allen's elderly mother told the Herald her son, a former correctional officer, was worried both about doing time and possibly entering witness protection. Shortly before his death, he startled her by drawing up a will. Three days before committing suicide, he paid her an ominous visit. "He said, ‘Ma, I had 43 good years,' " she said. "He gave me a hug and a kiss. He told me I was a great mom."
By Laurel J. Sweet
Source: Boston Herald