El Chapo’s lawyer won’t be sanctioned for endangering witness
Eduardo Balarezo, one of the lawyers for the notorious drug lord insists that the witness had already been outed by the feds
Eduardo Balarezo, lawyer of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will not be punished for potentially endangering a witness who is expected to testify against the kingpin at his upcoming trial, the New York Post reports.
Prosecutors had asked Judge Brian Cogan to penalize Balarezo for mentioning the witness in a text, but the Brooklyn federal judge declined to sanction him in his ruling on Friday. However, Cogan wrote that he was “very concerned” by his conduct.
“He conveyed false information to a cooperating witness’s lawyer (and by extension, to the cooperating witness) when he stated in the text message that the Government ‘outed’ the witness,” the jurist wrote. “Although Mr. Balarezo claims that the text message was not malicious and did not convey any threats, his use of the term ‘outed’ plainly suggests that the government somehow failed to protect the witness’s identity from the public.”
Prosecutors denied Balarezo’s claim that the witness had been outed by the feds— and accused him of acquiring the information from confidential documents.
Balarezo insisted that his own research led to the identity of the witness.
Cogan warned the attorney against contacting witnesses or their lawyers as the case proceeds.
“Any future conduct like the kind at issue here will constitute a sanctionable violation of this order,” the judge wrote.
Meanwhile, El Chapo’s trial on international drug trafficking charges begins Nov. 5. If convicted, he faces life behind bars.