Cranston philanthropist Joseph Caramadre took the witness stand in federal court in Providence on Wednesday in an attempt to explain why he plead guilty last Nov. 19 to fraud charges, but now claims he's innocent.
Caramadre admitted to stealing the identity of terminally ill patients, using their names on insurance annuities and making himself and investors the beneficiaries. The annuities included death benefits, which allowed Caramadre and his investors the opportunity to pocket millions in profits.
On Dec. 8, Caramadre filed papers requesting to withdraw his guilty plea.
He claims his trial lawyers, Anthony Traini and Michael Lepizzera, were ineffective counsel. He testified that his lawyers failed to aggressively cross examine the first four witnesses who testified against him.
"After hearing that testimony, Anthony Traini said, 'This looks really bad," Caramadre testified.
The disgraced philanthropist also accused Traini of planning all along to seek a plea agreement with the government.
Caramadre claims he's been treated for depression for years. And after the devastating testimony during the first days of his trial, his wife, Paula, became so distraught she "went into a deep depression, and couldn't get out of bed."
Caramadre says he also talked with friends about "suicide", but never intended to kill himself.
U.S. District Court Judge William Smith will decide soon, whether Caramadre will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, and stand trial once again.