In addition to the six Oscars and iconic film status Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather Part II achieved, the movie can now add to its long list of accolades being the source of a fiery dispute in the criminal case against former Trump associate Roger Stone.
Stone on Friday told a federal court that he opposed the request by prosecutors to play a clip from Godfather II at his trial, slated to start in November.
The clip was a pivotal scene in the movie in which a witness to Michael Corleone’s criminal conduct recants his testimony at a high-profile congressional hearing. The witness, Frank Pentangeli, backtracks on his testimony after he sees his brother and Corleone show up to watch the hearing.
Prosecutors say they want to play the clip to put in to context messages Stone allegedly sent radio host Randy Credico, who was subpoenaed to appear before Congress. Stone repeatedly referenced Pentangeli in the messages to Credico, according to prosecutors. Stone is charged with making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.
Stone has claimed that he referenced Pentangeli because Credico does a good impression of him.
Some of Stone’s alleged references to Pentangeli came up with Credico about the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, where Credico had been subpoenaed.
“Start practicing your Pantagele [sic],” Stone allegedly said in one text.
Another email allegedly sent by Stone to Credico references what Pentangeli said in the movie when he was backtracking on his testimony against Corleone.
“Sure I know Roger Stone. he [sic] was in the Olive Oil business with my father. But that was a long long time ago,” Stone allegedly said in the email, during an exchange House Intel investigation. “So I told them Roger Stone this, Roger Stone that at. You should do Pantagela [sic] on Erin Burnett.”
Prosecutors argued that the movie clip is “directly relevant” to the witness tampering charge against Stone.
“Watching the movie clip and seeing the context in which Pentangeli delivers the lines that Stone quotes to [Credico] makes clear that Stone’s messages were not mere references to [Credico’s] abilities as an impressionist, but rather were a suggestion that [Credico] testify falsely to Congress. The clip is an important piece of evidence on this critical, disputed issue,” prosecutors said in their request last month to play the movie.
On Friday, Stone said in a court filing that the clip has “no relevance to Stone’s statements,” that “it is a complete mischaracterization of Stone’s communications,” and that it gives “an improper assumption the nature of their friendship.”
Stone accused the government of using the clip “to compare the conduct of Stone to that of an alleged mafia member.” Stone said that the comparison would “instantly create a connection in the minds of the jurors that Stone is somehow similar to a
“The Godfather movie clip is a direct invitation by the government to the jury to consider the default violent, well-orchestrated propensities of the Mafia,” Stone said. “It is a stunt. It does way more than what the government should be permitted to prove. There were no threats hidden in that remark to [Credico] — a comedic impersonator, known for his ability to impersonate Frank Pentangeli.”
Read the Stone filing below: