A Virginia-based federal prosecutor who has become a polarizing figure as he doggedly pursues cases related to Islamic terrorism and extremism, Gordon Kromberg, scored another win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit yesterday.
In a per curiam opinion, a three-judge panel ruled that Kromberg had the right to seize a Fairfax, Va. home as part of the government's punishment Abdulrahman Alamoudi, a prominent American muslim leader who was sentenced to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty to participation in a scheme to assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
A foreign woman with family in Kuwait, Jehad Alhindi, claimed the home, bought for $380,000 in 2003, was actually hers. Her lawyer, Henry Fitzgerald, told me Alhindi came to America for treatment of an incurable muscle disease and got help from Alamoudi, who agreed to assist her in buying a house. Ultimately, the lawyer said, Alhindi's name was left off the paperwork because lenders said they wouldn't write a mortgage with her name on it. Alhindi said she put up $3000 in earnest money and made payments on the mortgage, but Alamoudi didn't formally deed the house over to her until after he was sentenced. At a hearing held to discuss Alhindi's claim to the house, Alamoudi took the Fifth Amendment.
Fitzgerald claimed the purchase arrangement gave Alhindi "equitable title" to the home, but the three-judge panel agreed with the trial court's decision that the home effectively belonged to the government because the money Alamoudi used to buy it was ill gotten. In a reference that could give flashbacks to some law students, the appeals court's opinion notes that the Statute of Frauds, an English legal provision transplanted to America, disfavors the kind of oral contracts for real estate Alhindi claimed.
Alhindi was ordered evicted from the home back in March of last year.
Prosecutor Kromberg's tactics have drawn criticism from defense lawyers and Muslim activists, though they have not publicly made an issue of his evicting an ill woman from what she claimed was her home. However, as I noted in a profile of Kromberg published in The New York Sun a few months back, his track record at trial is pretty strong and his record before the 4th Circuit is even stronger. Now it is stronger still.
The Sun's July story was headlined, "A Prosecutor Is Called 'Relentless.'" The Washington Post followed in September with an article titled, "Relentless Terrorism Prosecutor Faces Accusations of His Own." Completing the circle, Steve Emerson's Investigative Project attacked the Post report here, but, at some disappointment to me, left my earlier account unscathed.