SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 27, 2012

Lawyer admits stealing murder case file

SALEM — A Lynn lawyer admitted yesterday to stealing the court file and original indictments in a murder case, though he's now not sure why he did it.

Both a prosecutor and a judge called Ilya Ablavsky's theft of the file "an attack on the integrity of the justice system."

"But for his mental health issues, with Mr. Ablavsky being an attorney, I would view this as a case for state prison," said Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy, who suggested that, as a sworn officer of the court, Ablavsky was in a position to know just how wrong his actions were.

Instead, Ablavsky, 33, who pleaded guilty to a charge of tampering with a court record, was sentenced to 18 months in jail. All but the 64 days he spent in custody before being released on house arrest were suspended, however, and he will now spend two years on probation, Lowy ordered.

His lawyer said Ablavsky is expected to lose his law license.

Prosecutor Greg Friedholm described how Ablavsky, who had just received that law license a few months earlier, walked into the clerk's office at Salem Superior Court on the morning of Nov. 3, 2010, and asked for the file in the case of Jose Cabrera, a Lynn man charged in a gang-related shooting in Lynn.

Ablavsky was not representing Cabrera.

The lawyer who was representing Cabrera, Jeff Karp, received a call from Ablavsky in which he said the lawyer told him that he'd taken the file and shredded it, in the belief that the prosecution could not proceed without the original indictments.

It was not true; Cabrera was later convicted of second-degree murder, a verdict that touched off a melee inside a Salem courtroom last February.

Investigators subsequently learned that Ablavsky, who apparently knew Cabrera's family, had also attempted to take the original Lynn District Court file for the case but was stopped by a court officer, Friedholm said.

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