Two Haitian-American businessmen convicted of conspiring to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Haitian government officials, including the aide to a prime minister, for a northwest Haiti port will be getting a new trial.
Dr. Joseph Baptiste, a Maryland dentist and retired Haitian-American U.S. Army colonel, and Roger Richard Boncy, a former Haitian ambassador-at-large, were found guilty in June by a Boston federal jury of an $84 million Haiti port bribery scheme. Jurors convicted both men of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Travel Act. Baptiste was also convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering and an additional Travel Act violation, while Boncy was cleared of the two counts.
Prior to his sentencing, Baptiste brought in a new attorney to review his case. Both he and Boncy eventually sought acquittals, or at the very least a new trial, based on the argument that Baptiste received ineffective counsel from his defense lawyer, Donald LaRoche. Massachusetts U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs agreed to a new trial.
It is rare for a federal trial judge to overturn a jury’s conviction and order a new trial because a defendant received ineffective assistance from his lawyer. Continue reading