SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 28, 2013

Pair charged with witness intimidation

Police: Mugging suspects approached victim day before trial

SALEM — Two Salem men, one who had been scheduled to stand trial yesterday in a violent mugging that occurred in January, the other just released from a six-month jail term for the same incident, are now facing witness intimidation and threats charges.

Police say Eric Rentas, 25, of 3 Roslyn Court, and John Diaz, 21, of 11 Harbor St., approached the victim in the case and his mother on Wednesday in Mary Jane Lee Park, in the city’s Point neighborhood.

Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski told a judge that Rentas and Diaz yelled, “You better not go to court tomorrow,” and “If you go to court, you’re gonna get (expletive) up.” They also allegedly warned the two to watch their backs and threatened to damage the mother’s car, then intentionally splashed puddle water on the mother.

Police found the two at 13 Harbor St., a couple of blocks away. Both men made statements putting themselves in the park.

Their lawyers say Rentas and Diaz deny threatening anyone.

Diaz’s attorney, William O’Hare, said his client, having done his time on the larceny and assault charges stemming from the mugging, had no motive to threaten anyone.

“Except for the inference that he was with his buddy who was supposed to be in court the next day,” Judge Michael Lauranzano said.

And Patrick Regan, who represents Rentas, told the judge he had spoken with the alleged victim, who told him that Rentas said nothing to him and contradicted the police report.

“He says he never spoke to police,” Regan told the judge.

Prosniewski suggested that might be an indication that Rentas had succeeded in intimidating him, citing a police report stating that both the alleged victim and his mother gave statements.

Lauranzano granted the police prosecutor’s request to revoke Rentas’ bail in the case, pending a hearing Tuesday, and set bail on the new case at $10,000 for Rentas and at $5,000 for Diaz.

Rentas’ trial on the larceny and assault charges from January was postponed. A new trial date will be chosen next week.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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