SALEM — A Lynn lawyer was arrested yesterday after allegedly stealing the entire case file for a pending murder trial from Salem Superior Court on Wednesday morning and shredding it.
Ilya Ablavsky, 32, called the accused killer's lawyer and claimed that he had done some legal research and "found that if the state does not have the original indictment, they cannot try the case," court papers say.
Ablavsky allegedly went on to say that he had "shredded the documents."
Ablavksy claims to be a cousin of the alleged killer, Jose Cabrera, 20, of Lynn, who is charged in a gang-related shooting in Lynn two years ago. His case is scheduled to go to trial in January. Ablavsky does not represent Cabrera in the case.
The case file contained at least 51 documents, including the original indictments, lists of evidence, motions and judges' orders, and rulings on those pretrial motions, according to an electronic copy of the docket.
Prosecutors from Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office will meet with the defense attorney in the case and the court clerk to decide how to go about re-creating the file, said Steve O'Connell, a spokesman for Blodgett.
During a brief appearance yesterday in Salem District Court, Ablavsky repeatedly tried to address the judge, telling him that he wanted to represent himself.
But a lawyer who was appointed temporarily to represent Ablavsky raised concerns about his mental status, saying Ablavsky apparently suffers from bipolar disorder and was making "some statements that are totally off the wall."
At one point, Ablavsky told the judge he wanted "food and water in exchange for my cooperation."
That led Judge Robert Brennan to delay Ablavsky's arraignment, a formal reading of the charges and a bail hearing until Monday, when Ablavsky will first be evaluated by a court psychologist.
He will be held without bail at Middleton Jail for the weekend.
Ablavsky has been charged with withholding evidence and larceny of property.
The accused killer's lawyer, Jeffrey Karp, called the district attorney's office after getting the call from Ablavsky, according to a police report.
Staffers in the clerk's office, meanwhile, had already gotten a call from Ablavsky, telling them he had the file and asking if he would get into trouble.
Earlier in the day, he had asked to look at the case file in the clerk's office at the courthouse.
Ablavsky was identified by a member of the clerk's office staff in a photo array, a process similar to a police lineup except that photographs are used.
State police Trooper Robert Labarge got a warrant for Ablavsky's arrest yesterday and found him in Lynn.
This is not Ablavsky's first brush with the law.
Back in 1999, Ablavsky, then a student at Brandeis University in Waltham, was arrested and charged with making bomb threats against a state representative and a school administrator.
According to an account in the Brandeis campus newspaper, Ablavsky, who was running for mayor of Waltham, had lost to the state representative in a primary, garnering just 32 votes.
After trying to convince police that his opponent had been attempting to extort money from him — something he later admitted was untrue — he e-mailed bomb threats to his political rival and a school official.
Ablavsky spent five years on probation for that.
He went on to graduate from Salem State College in 2003 and last year received a law degree from Western New England College School of Law, according to his publicly available LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
Despite his criminal history, he received a license to practice law in June of this year, according to the Board of Bar Overseers website, which listed his license as active as of yesterday afternoon.