Lenience can be a problem in many areas of life, and the US Government now has to face the consequences of the Court’s lenience to Lee Elbaz, aka Lena Green, who was put under house arrest in September last year but now wants significant relaxation of her release conditions.
Earlier this week, the US Government responded to the request of Elbaz to modify the conditions of her release by opposing her requests to allow her to travel unaccompanied at least three days a week, as well as to attend mental health services unaccompanied and to attend religious services unaccompanied.
Let’s translate this into everyday terms: if Elbaz’s motion is granted in its entirety, the Court would be allowing the defendant in a criminal case to travel unaccompanied almost every day of the week.
According to the Government, this would constitute a significant opportunity for Elbaz – a foreign (Israeli – Ed.) national with almost no ties to this country and clear access to financial resources whom the magistrate judge correctly recognized is a flight risk—to flee or to take steps that would facilitate her eventual flight.
In addition, the Government notes that if the Defendant’s third-party custodian (Lee Elbaz’s aunt in San Francisco) is no longer able or willing to satisfy the responsibilities that she claimed to understand and undertook at the detention hearing, the appropriate course is for the Court to revoke the conditions permitting the defendant to be released pending trial. That is, the Court should remand Elbaz into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending completion of the trial in approximately six months.
Let’s recall that Lee Elbaz is accused of participating in a years-long, internet-based investment fraud – including as the Chief Executive Officer of a company called Yukom Communications- concerning the sale and marketing of “binary options.” That fraudulent scheme victimized United States residents, and others worldwide.
Elbaz’s detention hearing in the Maryland District Court took place on September 20, 2017, before Magistrate Judge Sullivan. At the time, the Pretrial Services Office in the District recommended that she be detained pending trial, the Government agreed, and the Defendant argued—at length and ultimately successfully—that she should be released into her aunt’s custody in San Francisco. Magistrate Judge Sullivan made clear that his decision to release Elbaz was a difficult one because he viewed her, a foreign national with limited ties to the United States, as a significant flight risk.
Magistrate Judge Sullivan explained his intention explicitly: ”My intention is this. It is very simple. I am moving a jail cell from the District of Maryland to  1633 Burrows Street, and she will be locked down in that residence 24/7, not allowed to go outside, not allowed to sit on the stoop, not allowed to take the trash out, not allowed to go have a cigarette outside or whatever”.
The latest motion by the defendant characterizes her aunt’s home as “a cramped apartment where all phone conversations with defense counsel can be overheard”, but that is not what the defendant told Magistrate Judge Sullivan. Elbaz’s counsel told Magistrate Judge Sullivan that the property was a “three-bedroom house” “worth $1.2 million” with an “extra room” for the defendant.
Furthermore, Elbaz now claims that there is a “lack of stability of [the] internet connection” at her aunt’s home, but at the detention hearing, when arguing in favor of her being permitted access to the Internet at all, Elbaz’s attorney was concerned that Internet would be restricted in full at her aunt’s home. He told Magistrate Judge Sullivan that the defendant’s aunt “has a tech start-up company. She can’t not have Internet in that house.”
Elbaz faces a prison sentence and a heavy fine if she is found guilty of fraud. The criminal case against her is captioned USA v. Elbaz (8:18-cr-00157).
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