Cranston's Gerard Donley, a well-known criminal defense lawyer based out of Providence, today was found guilty of obstruction of justice, bribery and conspiracy to bribe a witness after a seven-day trial in Superior Court.
In a release, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Donley conspired with to indicted co-defendants to bribe a witness "to prevent him from testifying against [his] client in a criminal manner."
That criminal matter was a stabbing between his client Jamaal Dublin and the alleged victim, Michael Drepaul.
The state also proved that Donley "obstructed the judicial system by influencing a witness' testimony which resulted in him providing false testimony before the Grand Jury," Kilmartin said.
“It is not without trepidation and great consideration that the Office initiated the investigation to bring this case to trial. The Office does not take lightly bringing a case against defense counsel. However, the criminal justice system works only when both sides – the defense and the prosecution – uphold the laws of our state to ensure that justice is served,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “There is no pleasure in prosecuting a defense counsel, but we must apply the law evenly, without fear or favor, in all instances.”
“Upon passing the bar in Rhode Island, all lawyers take an oath to be honest and fair. One of the greatest tenets of our justice system is that every individual is entitled to a vigorous defense; the attorneys who represent their clients in our courts are just as fundamental to the pursuit of truth and justice as the prosecutors in our office," Kilmartin said. "Mr. Donley’s conviction is an aberration from the standards of ethics and fundamental fairness with which defense attorneys comport themselves every day. He is no way a reflection of the honorable defense attorneys our office works with day in and day out and for whom we have the utmost respect, as well as a common esteem for the system of law in which we operate.”
Court records show that Donley, 54, of 50 Betsey Williams Drive, along with Donna Uhlman of Barrington and Dublin of Providence, conspired to bribe Drepaul by giving $6,000 to his girlfriend, Nicole "Coco" Brown.
According to his website, Donley "is recognized for his honesty, his integrity and his exceptional devotion to the interests of his clients. Friendly, relaxed and down to earth, yet professional, expert and "a beast" in court when necessary."
Donley, in a comment here on Cranston Patch in May of last year, said "my peers know me very well as i have earned my reputation for integrity and hard work for over 25 years. My peers have expressed universal support and confidence that these are false charges and that I will be exonerated fully of these outrageous allegations. I encourage you to be suspicious of these charges and of those who pressed for them to be brought."
During the trial, Donley testified that he delivered the $6,000 to end the dispute, telling the courtroom ""There was going to be money or there was going to be violence," Katie Mulvaney of the Providence Journal reported.
The jury deliberated for 13 hours.
Judge Robert Crouse ordered Donley to home confinement and set bail at $250,000 with surety, the Journal reported.