An attorney for prominent criminal lawyer Robert A. George said Thursday during George’s federal money-laundering trial in Boston that he can prove the government’s star witness threatened to harm his client, after the witness denied doing so on the stand.
George’s attorney, Robert M. Goldstein, said recordings in which witness Ronald Dardinski, 44, is heard making threats from a Martha’s Vineyard jail undermine his credibility.
George, 57, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of trying to help Dardinski, a career criminal and former client, launder purported drug-dealing profits for a fee, by methods including referring him to a mortgage broker who would help him.
Dardinski was working with federal agents and has testified he never had any actual drug money to launder. He has detailed George’s alleged plot from the witness stand this week.
During his testimony, prosecutors have played recordings of conversations the two men had between 2009 and 2011, in which George discussed money transactions with Dardinski, who was secretly recording their talks.
But Dardinski has also said he was angry at George for providing what he considered poor representation in a prior case and he wanted money back.
On Thursday, Dardinski told Goldstein in cross-examination that he never left George any threatening phone messages.
Goldstein later played a recording of a phone conversation Dardinski had from the Vineyard jail with his girlfriend, in which she said she did not think George would deliver refund money to her.
“He’ll do what he’s told,” Dardinski replied.
Inmates are typically notified that their phone conversations are recorded.
When Goldstein asked if Dardinski ever threatened to smash George’s head in, the witness hedged.
“I don’t recall threatening to smash his head in,” he said. “I may have. . . . When I get mad I say stupid things.”
Goldstein is expected to continue cross-examining Dardinski on Friday in US District Court, and he told Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton that he will play additional recordings of calls Dardinski made from prison, including a clip in which he threatens to attack George.
George’s lawyers say that Dardinski is a cheat who wanted to ensnare his former attorney to curry favor with prosecutors.
They also argue that authorities are vindictively pursuing George for defending a man accused in a plot to kill a federal prosecutor.
George has defended a slew of high-profile clients, including reputed mobsters and the man convicted of killing fashion writer Christa Worthington on Cape Cod.
Dardinski told George, on one of the recordings that prosecutors have introduced into evidence, that he has something to conceal.
“What I want you to do, though, ‘cause I’m trying to hide some [stuff] here, whatever my end is, just write me a check,” Dardinski said. “That way I can, you know, say I did, like, some research.”
“Oh, I’ll write you a check, yeah,” George replied. “I might even do it a different way.”
Dardinski, under questioning from Goldstein, conceded that George is heard saying repeatedly on other recordings that he wanted nothing to do with laundering drug money.
Dardinski also testified that he has worked as a government informant on various cases for 12 years. Goldstein told jurors Wednesday that authorities have paid Dardinski more than $75,000 for his services.
Globe correspondent Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.