- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - A Boston defense attorney offered cash to the victim of a hate crime and urged the man not to cooperate further with state and U.S. law enforcement officials, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Timothy Flaherty, 50, was indicted on a charge of tampering with a witness to a possible federal civil rights case.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office, Flaherty represented a man who was facing state civil rights charges after allegedly assaulting a man while yelling anti-Muslim slurs.

Flaherty pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in U.S. District Court Wednesday. He was released without bail and ordered to stay away from the witness.

Flaherty’s lawyer, Thomas Butters, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

A Cambridge resident, Flaherty is the son of former Democratic Massachusetts House Speaker Charles Flaherty and is a former assistant district attorney. The younger Flaherty has twice run unsuccessfully for the state Senate.

Federal prosecutors said after Flaherty’s client was arraigned on the state charge, the lawyer contacted the victim of the alleged assault, apologized on behalf of his client and urged him to tell state prosecutors that he no longer wished to cooperate in the case.

Last December, the indictment alleges, Flaherty met with the victim and gave him an envelope with $2,500 in exchange for not testifying in court. Flaherty instructed the man to ignore phone calls or other contact with law enforcement authorities and to get in touch with him immediately if he was subpoenaed, the indictment said.

Prosecutors said the victim told Flaherty in May that he had received a letter from the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. The lawyer, according to the indictment, instructed the man to tell the DA: “I have no interest in this. I’d have to come to court, I really don’t want anything to do with it. Um, you know the guy had a bad day and I’m just not going to testify…”

When the man said he had also received a message from an employee in the U.S. Attorney’s office about the case, Flaherty told him to, “blow her off,” according to the indictment, and also later encouraged him not to return a call from the FBI.

If convicted, Flaherty could face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Martin Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association, told The Boston Globe that Flaherty is considered a top criminal defense attorney in the Boston area.

“The alleged actions run counter to Attorney Flaherty’s well known reputation as a skilled trial lawyer,” Healy said.

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