Arab-American businessman remains in jail

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A federal magistrate refused Friday to release an Arab-American businessman from jail even though he was willing to surrender his passport and wear an electronic monitoring device.

U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Harry Branson rescheduled Nezar Khaled ''Mike'' Maad's detention hearing for next Wednesday after Maad's lawyer requested the delay. Branson said before Maad could be released a detention hearing would have to be held.

Prosecutors were ready to go ahead with the hearing.

''I have no idea why he did it,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Cooper when asked about the delay.

Prosecutors want Maad to remain without bail in the Cook Inlet Pre-Trial facility because they believe he is a flight risk. According to court documents, Maad fled to Paris in 1988 when he was employed at a men's wear shop and was discovered selling suits from his car and pocketing the money.

Maad was arrested Tuesday and charged with four felonies for allegedly lying to get loans for his business, Frontier Printing Services in Anchorage. Prosecutors say Maad twice inflated the worth of equipment when applying for loans from Northrim Bank, and said he had more than $50,000 in cash when his account actually was overdrawn.

His wife, Joanne, distributed a letter Friday that said she was closing the business.

''Because of so much uncertainty, I believe strongly that it would be irresponsible of me to continue to incur further debt,'' the letter said.

Court proceedings following Maad's arrest have focused largely on his finances. Branson refused Thursday to appoint Maad a public defender after prosecutors argued that he had sufficient resources to hire his own lawyer. According to prosecutors, Maad owns his own home and made more than $110,000 last year.

The bank fraud charges arose from an FBI investigation into what was suspected of being a hate crime at Maad's business 10 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Someone broke computers and printers and spray-painted ''We hate Arabs'' on one wall.

The attack prompted an outpouring of sympathy from the community and the setting up of a fund to help Maad cover his losses. Maad received one disbursement of $15,000 before the fund's remaining assets were frozen.

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