IMF ex-leader to be released as bail plan is OK'd

By Jennifer Pletz/The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A judge on Friday cleared the way for former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn to get out of jail in his sex assault case even after his expensive housing plans hit a snag.

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said he would sign a release order Friday for the French economist and politician, who is accused of trying to rape a hotel maid. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers said they had posted $1 million cash bail.

It was unclear when Strauss-Kahn would be released, but his attorneys said they expected he would get out of jail sometime Friday.

Obus had agreed a day earlier to release Strauss-Kahn to house arrest with round-the-clock armed guard if he posted the bail plus a $5 million bond.

The release plan stalled after objections from within the apartment building where he was initially to stay, perhaps because of the crush of media attention to the case, prosecutor John “Artie” McConnell said in court Friday.

Instead, Strauss-Kahn will be housed temporarily in lower Manhattan and would not be allowed to leave. The security company managing his release signed off on the location.

“This is intended to be temporary, meaning a few days, and in the meantime, efforts would be made to arrange for another suitable residence,” McConnell said.

Strauss-Kahn has been behind bars since Saturday. He has denied breaking any laws.

The Department of Correction said in a statement Friday that it will manage Strauss-Kahn’s release following the posting of bail and the filing of all required paperwork. A corrections spokeswoman said no details about timing or location of the transfer would be provided.

The 62-year-old French economist and diplomat wasn’t in court Friday.

The day before, he briefly wore an expression of relief after Obus announced his bail decision in a packed courtroom. Later, Strauss-Kahn blew a kiss toward his wife.

Lawyer William W. Taylor has called the bail decision “a great relief for the family” and said Strauss-Kahn’s mindset was “much better now than before we started.”

The ex-IMF head is accused of attacking a 32-year-old housekeeper Saturday in his $3,000-a-night hotel suite. The West African immigrant told police he chased her down a hallway in the suite, forced her to perform oral sex and tried to remove her stockings.

Thursday’s bail decision came less than a day after Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the IMF, the powerful organization that makes emergency loans to countries in financial crisis.

In his resignation letter, he denied the allegations against him but said he would quit in order to “protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion” and to “devote all my strength, all my time and all my energy to proving my innocence.”

Prosecutors had argued against his release, citing the violent nature of the alleged offenses and saying his wealth and international connections would make it easy for him to flee.

At his arraignment Monday, a prosecutor suggested that if Strauss-Kahn were released and ran, he could end up “just like Roman Polanski,” whom the Swiss government declined to extradite last year in the child sex case in the U.S. in which he had jumped bail decades ago.

On Thursday, defense lawyers offered a notorious example of their own: Madoff, the fraudulent financier who stole billions of dollars from investors. Before Madoff pleaded guilty in the federal case and was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009, he was freed on $10 million bail, under house arrest and private guard provided by the same firm Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have proposed to monitor him. Taylor cited Madoff as he noted in court that “there have been other high-profile cases where (defendants) have been released.”

Taylor called the proposed arrangement “the most restrictive possible conditions,” although he suggested few precautions were necessary.

“In our view, no bail is required to confirm Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s appearance. He is an honorable man. He will appear in this court and anywhere else the court directs, and he has only one interest at this time, and that is to clear his name,” Taylor said.

A different judge had ordered Strauss-Kahn held without bail Monday; his lawyers subsequently added home confinement to their bail proposal. His wife, the French television journalist Anne Sinclair, has rented a Manhattan apartment for the couple, Taylor said.

Obus said the conditions played a major role in his decision to allow bail, but he warned Strauss-Kahn he might reconsider “if there is the slightest problem with your compliance.”

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Associated Press writer Karen Zraick contributed to this report.