The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weinstein, United States District Judge.
Through her Panamanian precious metal and jewelry business, defendant
allegedly committed serious drug money washing offenses involving tens of
millions of dollars. She is a citizen of Israel domiciled in Panama with
no relatives or friends in this country. She appeared voluntarily in this
court after her property was seized in Panama.
Defendant moved for release pending trial. After a hearing she was
ordered released if she could satisfy conditions specified by the court.
The magistrate judge held hearings determining that the property pledged
fit the conditions.
It was the court's view that, for reasons stated orally on the record,
the conditions would ensure that defendant could prepare for trial and
that she would be present at the trial. See generally transcript of
evidentiary hearing Dec. 12, 2001, pp. 39-56. The court was particularly
concerned that without release there was a serious possibility that
defendant would not be able to properly defend herself.
The government appealed from this court's decision of December 12, 2001
ordering release on conditions. The court of appeals remanded the case by
its January 8, 2002 order: "We remand to the district court to consider
the determinative question specified by § 3142 ___ whether any
combination of conditions would reasonably assure Hebroni's appearance as
Given the circumstances of the case, it was the court's view that
conditions of incarceration of the defendant and the nature of the case
made it unlikely that due process could be served without some form of
release. Due process rights of the defendant have been temporarily
protected at substantial cost to the judicial system, by assigning a room
in our already overburdened court house where she is brought early each
morning from jail, works all day on scores of boxes of documents under
guard of at least two marshals and then is returned to jail at the end of
Because of winter conditions and her need for kosher food, the court
has had to intervene to ensure that she obtains proper nutrition as well
as adequate clothing during transportation. She shows signs of physical
and emotional deterioration as a result of her incarceration.
Defendant has been held awaiting trial for sixteen months. The delay
was not caused by her. In large part it was necessitated by the need to
assemble and transport many boxes of defendant's company files from
Panama where they had been seized by the Panamanian government.
The trial will take up to a month and will begin a month from now.
Unless defendant is released she will have been incarcerated for eighteen
months, while presumed to be innocent, in a foreign land, separated from
The court has ordered the names of a number of prospective witnesses
kept secret until trial to protect them. The defendant's release does not
add to the dangers to these or any other witnesses. The threat comes from
traffickers in drugs who she cannot influence.
The court, pursuant to the order of the court of appeals, puts aside
considerations of the conditions of defendant's health and her ability to
prepare for trial properly. It is deciding whether to grant release solely
on the issue of whether the "combination of conditions [now imposed by
the court] would reasonably assure Hebroni's appearance as required."
The court finds that there is no reasonable possibility that given the
terms imposed, during release she "will endanger the safety of any other
person or the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3141(b).
The probability of success of the government's case has been
considered. This factor is relevant in deciding whether a defendant is
likely to wish to flee or to stay and defend. A conviction will result in
the loss of millions of dollars in assets seized by the governments of
the United States and Panama. In effect, conviction would lead to
defendant's financial ruin.
A date for trial and for sentence has been fixed. Defendant has been
warned that fleeing will result in her being tried in abseutia,
increasing the possibility of conviction. Should she be successful in
fleeing, defendant as well as her sureties would suffer the most serious
consequences. Were she extradited (which is assumed to be unlikely) or
apprehended after attempting to flee, the penalties would result in a more
severe term of imprisonment and probably in loss of all her assets. These
risks make it unlikely that she will wish to violate the conditions of