A federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday rebuffed the latest effort by a wealthy defendant to buy his way out of custody by offering to pay a private security firm and guards to confine him to an apartment as a condition of bail.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled that the offer by Reza Zarrab, a multimillionaire man charged with helping Iran evade sanctions, should be rejected because it would give the rich another leg up in the criminal justice system.
“The Defendant’s privately funded armed guard proposal is unreasonable because it helps to foster inequity and unequal treatment in favor of a very small cohort of criminal defendants who are extremely wealthy,” Berman said in a 30-page decision.
Zarrab, 33, who is Turkish and was arrested while visiting Disney World with his family, offered to sign a $50 million bond secured by $10 million in cash and to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet to keep him at a Manhattan apartment, as well as sign a consent allowing the hired guards to use force to stop him from leaving.
Berman said the government has a strong case, and Zarrab has no U.S. ties, making him a serious flight risk. Courts in the past have split over allowing wealthy defendants to be guarded by private security.
French politician Dominique Strauss-Khan was permitted to use such an arrangement when he was charged with sexually assaulting a hotel maid in Manhattan, and a federal judge approved private security for Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng while he awaits trial on an alleged United Nations bribery scheme.