Molestation trial will proceed here

Posted: May 23, 2007

A New Jersey man accused of traveling to Moldova to sexually molest teenage boys can receive a fair trial in Philadelphia, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

A lawyer for Anthony Mark Bianchi had asked for the indictment to be dismissed, citing the difficulty in compelling defense witnesses to travel to the United States. The defense also had cited the hardship of trying to find evidence to rebut the prosecution's case once the trial is underway because most of that evidence is in Eastern Europe.

Though U.S. District Judge Bruce Kauffman said the case against Bianchi was "unique," he added that "extraordinary measures" had already been taken to ensure a fair trial, including ordering prosecutors to disclose all of the evidence in the case, among it a Moldovan court file, months in advance of the trial.

"These documents provide the defendant with a detailed road map of the government's case," Kauffman wrote. The judge conducted a three-hour hearing on the issue May 3.

Bianchi, whose family owns a North Wildwood hotel, is charged with sexually molesting 13 boys in Moldova, Romania and Cuba during five overseas trips. The defense asserts that many of the boys have since recanted their statements.

Bianchi faces trial in Philadelphia because the first evidence against him was allegedly discovered by U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement agents when he landed at the airport here after a 2005 trip to Eastern Europe.

Trial is scheduled to begin July 16. The U.S. government plans to fly the alleged victims and other witnesses from Romania and Moldova, a former Soviet Republic, to Philadelphia to testify.

A key witness who is not expected to attend the trial here is Bianchi's alleged translator and pimp, Ion Gusin. He was convicted by a Moldovan court last year and is serving a 20-year sentence there. Prosecutors and defense lawyers may fly to Moldova soon to try to take a videotaped deposition to be played at trial here.


Contact staff writer John Shiffman at 215-854-2658 or jshiffman@phillynews.com.

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