Court Reporter Faces Perjury Charges
Just how bad can it get for a court reporter who doesn’t have the honesty and respect for the law the profession demands? Pretty bad, as one Virginia court reporter recently discovered.
Ernest Benko, 66, of Norton, VA, was recently indicted on four federal charges:
- three counts of making a false statement, and
- one count of conspiracy.
Recorded intentionally false material
According to the indictment, Benko was hired in 2009 to record statements from two witnesses in a case accusing an attorney of using illegal substances. In the recording, the first witness claimed he had never seen the attorney do any drugs.
Only trouble was, Benko knew that was false and other proceeding’s he’d recorded proved it. During a deposition that took place before the recordings in question, the indictment alleges the witness told Benko he’d done drugs with the attorney, but the court reporter turned his tape recorder off for this statement.
The attorney even asked Benko how to handle the fact that the witness had seen the attorney take illegal drugs.
Benko’s expert reply: “I wouldn’t’ even go there.”
In the second recording, the feds allege Benko recorded a different witness stating he’d been contact by the FBI regarding the attorney’s drug use and connected trial.
In fact, the indictment says, the FBI had not contacted this second witness. Benko knew this fact, but let the recording stand anyway.
Made matters worse
Benko simply made matters worse for himself last September when the FBI interviewed him about the alleged recordings. He told the FBI he had no knowledge the attorney did illegal drugs and denied the instances where he heard mentions of the drug use when the tape recorder wasn’t running.
In addition to his duties as a court report, Bento is also a videographer, private investigator and notary public. On top of all that, he owns a cable television company.
He was arrested at his cable company headquarters late last month.
Finding a reliable source
This case might be an extreme example of how far a court reporter can deviate from the law — and industry best practices. After all, the client in this case was the one encouraging the reporter to record false statements.
After all, an incorrect transcript is not much better than a dishonest one in the eyes of (most) clients.
This case highlights the importance of finding a court reporting service with the skills and dedication needed to find the right reporting solutions for its clients. A good court reporter can be counted on to deliver an accurate, reliable record of the proceedings.
Looking for a reliable court reporter?
If you are looking for a court reporting agency that is the right fit for your needs, I invite you to contact us. Philly Court Reporters.com has been serving attorneys and law firms in Philadelphia for over 30 years. Come see the difference that we make for our clients.