Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Accuser's Incarcerated Fiance Identified

Major props to Christine Pelisek, Terry Greene Sterling and Christopher Dickey of The Daily Beast, who discovered the identity of the jailed fiance/husband of the hotel maid in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. He is Amara Tarawally, 35. Yesterday, Daily Beast reporters interviewed him at the Arizona immigration center.

Tarawally himself was arrested in July 2010 along with another African, a Mexican, and a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent, according to court records. Tarawally had produced almost $40,000 in cash to buy 114 pounds of marijuana from a man who turned out to be a police informant in Chandler, Arizona.

After a plea bargain, in which three felony charges were dropped and Tarawally copped to conspiracy to possess a large amount of cannabis, he served nine months in jail and was put on probation but immediately turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Tarawally is now behind the cinderblock walls and concertina-wire fences of a detention center in the desert town of Eloy, Arizona, awaiting a deportation decision.

The accuser's phone call in a Fulani dialect with Tarawally the day after the encounter with DSK may be the biggest problem for the state's case. Prosecutors believe she told him not to worry, she knew what she was doing and the man she accused had a lot of money. [More...]

From the interview, it sounds like Mr. Tarawally is quite the scammer when it comes to women. He appears to have two fiances and a wife from whom he is not yet divorced. The Daily Beast also interviewed his other fiance, Sonja Hill, a cosmetologist in Phoenix. She said she's been with Tarawally for about four years, and they began living together about four months before his 2010 arrent. Tarawally told the Daily Beast he and his wife, who lives in New York, have a five year son together.

Is the accuser another one of his victims?

But through the fog of Tarawally’s many dubious claims and denials emerges the picture of a man used to manipulating women for his own ends, perhaps to include the 32-year-old African immigrant chambermaid who accused Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault and attempted rape at the Manhattan Sofitel on May 14.

Tarawally presents some new credibility issues for the accuser. He denied he made bank deposits to her bank account. The New York Times said she told authorities when confronted with the deposits, that he must have made them. Which one of them is lying? If he didn't make the deposits, where did the money come from?

According to friends and relatives of the accuser, they were married in a religious but not civil ceremony and he is from the Gambia. Tarawally tells the Daily Beast he is from Sierra Leone. ICE lists his country of birth as Sierra Leone. Perhaps he was one of the many driven out of Sierra Leone to Gambia in the 1990's. (He was born in 1976.) If so, I wonder if he's filed a Petition for Withdrawal of Removal to prevent him from being sent back to Sierra Leone where he could be in danger.

He tells the Daily Beast he has known the accuser for 6 or 7 years. Her friends have said she met him when working at a Gambian Restaurant in the Bronx, which was the job she had before working at the Sofitel.

Tarawally pleaded guilty in November, 2010 to possession of marijuana for sale, a class 2 felony in Arizona. He was sentenced to time served (9 months)and 6 years of probation. The Court's sentencing order states (obtained from AZ online court dockets):

The Court has been informed that defendant was born in Sierra Leone (West Africa). In addition, the Court has been presented with sufficient evidence that defendant has been identified by federal authorities or a 287(g) officer as a person who is unlawfully present in the United States. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 11-1051© and Supreme Court Administrative Order 2010-91, the clerk shall send a copy of this order to the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

He got a great deal. Three counts were dismissed as was the allegation that the quantity was "over the threshold" which I suspect is AZ legal speak for allowing him to plead to a lesser quantity and avoid a mandatory minimum sentence.

On the one hand, I feel sorry for anyone who had to serve time in a jail operated by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. On the other, he sounds like a scammer. His vouching for DSK's accuser is not worth much. And it leaves a big question mark as how so much money got into her bank account. Per the New York Times:

According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.

That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.

The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends. (my emphasis)

At least the mystery of the phone call on May 15 is solved. He called her (as I wrote earlier, immigration detainees can't receive telephone calls.) Since Blake Diallo said he referred her to attorney Jeff Shapiro the day of the incident when she called him from the hospital where she was being tested, and that he told her it was DSK she had accused, it stands to reason she would have told Tarawally on the 15th she had a lawyer and the man she was accusing was DSK -- or at least wealthy. The question remains, what was the context of her telling him this? What other context could there be to mentioning the guy was wealthy and she had her own lawyer?

I agree there appears to be no sign Tarawally and the accuser set DSK up in advance. But his interview provides no clarity on what happened in the room between them, or whether she's lied or embellished her account for money. The defense could make a good argument to a jury that she has a history of making up rape claims to further her own agenda. Once she did it to obtain residency in the U.S., this time its for her economic gain.

The takeway from the story for me is not that the inmate backs her up, it's that he contradicts her. She claimed he and his friends deposited close to $100,00 found in her bank account(s) and he denies it.

They both have major credibility issues. My prediction: When prosecutors finish the investigation into the five phones in her name and the $100,000 in deposits, in multiple states, the case against DSK will be dropped.

Background on the accuser, the inmate and the phone calls is here and here.

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    Worth noting (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by scribe on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 09:30:02 AM EST
    as did the NYDN over the weekend, that the state's case against DSK, particularly as to the accuser's credibility problems, has many of the same kinds of problems that the government's did, when they prosecuted a crew of NYPD cops for sodomizing and nearly killing Louima in a stationhouse toilet.

    Just saying that it doesn't make any more sense to jump over the edge on DSK's side than it did or does to jump over the edge on the accuser's.

    i've had problems with (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 07:20:28 PM EST
    the whole "huge deposits of cash in her bank account" issue since it first was raised in the DA's letter. either a. they did less than a half-assed job of auditing that bank account., or b. they did a half-assed job of auditing that bank account. those are the only two rational possibilites.

    they have the ability to issue either civil summonses or subpoenas to the bank, for all the records on that account. this would include, but not be limited to, the following items:

    1. the original account opening documents.
    2. the authorized signatories card.
    3. all statements for the account.
    4. copies of all depository items and tickets.
    5. all CTR's (currency transaction reports) filed on the account, for all single/multiple deposits, or withdrawals, in cash, of greater than $10,000. these are required to be completed by the bank, and filed with the treasury dept.

    all of these items should provide (even with cash transactions) the parties who actually made the deposits, since the CTR requires that party be identified. as well, the deposit tickets will have handwriting on them (unless they were typed, i suppose), which can be compared to that of the various parties.

    so far, from what i have read, the DA's office only looked at the account statements, not the rest of the documents i would have requested from the bank, had i issued a summons on it.

    perhaps they need better forensic accountants in that office.

    Cannot recall any prosecution for criminal (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 10:54:59 PM EST
    sexual abuse in which the complaining witness' financial records were at issue, sub dt'd by either side, etc.  Really offensive.

    Tarawally must have been a first class snitch (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Wed Jul 13, 2011 at 10:56:29 PM EST
    or has some other hold over others to receive such a lenient deal.  

    actually, all but one of the four (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 01:49:11 AM EST
    defendants in his case got probation. The fourth got 12 years because he had a prior. All pleaded guilty within a few months of being charged. The original charges were (I took this from the court docket):


    It was a reverse sting where the cops were selling the drugs. They used an informant to set up the sale. It appears to be the Chandler police dept. Here's how it works:

    Chandler seemed to have perfected the reverse sting, a tactic that has been used by the agency at least since the early 1990s. A series on state forfeiture laws published by the Mesa-based Tribune newspaper in November 1993 shows it was the agency's mainstay at that time, and had been for years.

    There is a pattern to the way the deals go down, according to court records.

    A confidential informant arranges the deal, working his own sources outside of direct control of police to find people who want to buy large quantities of marijuana. Once the buyer is found, the informant contacts detectives who get the marijuana out of the department's evidence room and pose as the suppliers.

    Most of the reverse stings take place in Phoenix. Of the 20 reverse stings Chandler police ran in a year, only four of them had any connection to Chandler.

    Terms are often discussed at an initial meeting between the buyers and undercover detectives. Police provide a sample. A price is agreed to and arrangements for delivery are made.

    When the sale takes place, the undercover detective will often check the money before calling fellow officers to deliver the drugs. Money and marijuana exchange. A few minutes later, Chandler's SWAT team moves in to arrest the suspects.

    They do it to grab the money for forfeiture. The Goldwater Institute analyzed the year of Chandler cases that ended in July, 2010, which would include DSK'a accuser's fiance case.

    Lots of light sentences in thise cases:

    Of the 87 defendants, 42 received prison terms, typically because they had prior convictions or were carrying a firearm during the transaction. Another 42 received probation. Cases against two defendants are still open and a third was sentenced to a drug diversion program, according to court records.

    A week later, in another reverse sting, a Chandler cop was killed. Hopefully, the police have dropped this tactic.

    Read the Goldwater analysis, it's really interesting. It also gives the cops a tremendous incentive to steal some of the money, since its the drug dealers money, not the departments. I did a case in FL years ago where it ended up the cops were all crooked and ended up going to prison for long times. My client in an unrelated case with the same cops spent 7 monts or so in jail without bond, and when the cop thing broke, they let him out with time served.


    i realize this tactic doesn't (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 08:03:24 AM EST
    "technically" qualify as entrapment (after all, when approached, the accused agreed to commit a criminal act, as the USSC maintains), but it's damn close to it, and sleazy as hell. at that point, the police are no longer "public servants", but a for-profit enterprise, operating under color of law, and pretty much immune from prosecution, should their tactics result in harm to any innocent bystanders.

    that kind of stain can't be washed off.


    I don't know what else to call it... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 09:54:35 AM EST
    but entrapment...and definitely a sleazy uinrighteous tactic at the very least.

    Law enforcement is supposed to enforce the law, not conning people into breaking it....shameful, but expected in a police state such as ours.


    actually, (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 11:48:13 AM EST
    this all leads back to the DEA, and their "Drug enforcement for fun & profit" programs. when anyone is given a monetary incentive to perform any given act, you can be assured they will be willingly ignorant of anything (laws, the constitution) that might possibly put a dent in their gross profit margin.

    under those circumstances, "protect & serve" becomes orwellian double-speak.


    Indeed... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 12:00:22 PM EST
    hard to make people understand something when their livelyhood depends on them not understanding it.

    And it is so engrained now, fuhgedaboutit...thank goodness we cancelled alcohol prohibition in about ten years, if we waited any longer for it to be engrained we might still might be buying bathtub gin, and/or being entrapped into buying bathtub gin.


    There are extortion rings (none / 0) (#8)
    by MKS on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 11:41:03 AM EST
    that work hotels looking for rich men to target.

    true, (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 11:43:50 AM EST
    then there are the non-uniformed groups of them.