Nakoula Basseley Nakoula Released After Questioning
California film producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been released after voluntarily going to an LA Sheriff's station to be questioned by federal probation officers. According to sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, he decided not to return to his besieged home and was taken to an undisclosed location. His most recent attorney, Steven Seidman, who did not represent him in his federal bank fraud case for which he is on supervised release, visited the home this morning saying he was not at liberty to discuss his representation.
Nakoula is a Coptic Christian. In his federal case, an Arabic translator was required and appeared at all proceedings. He is a U.S. citizen. His lawyer in the case was James Henderson, Sr., who replaced Jack Whitaker due to a potential conflict of interest issue that arose.
Nakoula was detained in that case since his arrest in June, 2009. The Government asserted he was an extreme flight risk. He did not contest detention. After cooperating with the government in exchange for leniency at sentencing, in June, 2010, he was sentenced to 21 months, to be followed by 6 months in a halfway house. The Judge recommended he serve his sentence at Lompoc, and BOP records show his release date as June, 2011. There is no indication in the court record of any subsequent violations. He was also ordered to pay $794,700.57, in restitution. [More...]
[T]he defendant is hereby committed on count 1 of the Indictment to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a term of: TWENTY-ONE (21) MONTHS
....Upon release from imprisonment, the defendant shall be placed on supervised release for a term of five (5) years, under the following terms and conditions:
.... 2. The defendant shall reside for a period of six (6) months in a community corrections center (community corrections component), as directed by the Probation Officer, and shall observe the rules of that facility;
Sam Bacile is a fictitious name. But it's not difficult to link to Nakoula. In his bank fraud case, which involved multiple instances of him opening bank accounts in the name of fictitious people using real social security numbers belonging to other people (called synthetic identity theft), one of the accounts he fraudulently opened was for a Nicola Bacily, supposedly of Nevada.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service. Investigators obtained video surveillance footage of him at ATM machines depositing and withdrawing money from the phoney Bacily account.
He opened the phony bank account for Bacily at Washington Mutual in June, 2008, using an online application. He also got a gold debit card for the account, and a capital one credit card in the name of Robert Bacily, which authorized Nicola Bacily as a user.
Bacily to Bacile -- coincidence?
Nakoula's scheme involved multiple false names and accounts. The ATM surveillance videos showed him conducting transactions in several of the accounts. At times, the surveillance showed his wife, Olivia Ibrahim, with him. She has a company called Golden Export & Import Inc, in Cerritos.
When Nakoula was first contacted by the media, believing him to be the non-existent Sam Bacile, Nakoula, pretending to be Bacile, said he was Jewish and Israeli. That's a total lie. He's a Coptic Christian who speaks Arabic, which is their official language (Apparently, the Coptic Christians were repressed in Egypt. There are many Coptic Christian churches in the U.S. A review of their websites showed some of them to be extreme anti-Islamic fundamentalists.) (Added: Changed to reflect that only some of the coptic christian churches are radical fundamentalists. There are many that don't preach hate.) Bacile's phone is listed at Nakoula's address.
One of the actors in the film said Bacile spoke Arabic on the set and later told her he was Egyptian.
Nakoula also has an old state conviction pertaining to methamphetamine.
Among the terms of his supervised release:
7. Defendant shall not possess or use a device with access to any online service at any location without the prior approval of the Probation Officer. This includes access through any Internet Service Provider ("ISP"), bulletin board system, or any public or private computer network system. Further, defendant shall not have another individual access the Internet on defendant's behalf to obtain files or information that defendant is restricted from accessing personally, or accept restricted files or information from another person;
8. Defendant shall use only those computers, computer related devices, screen/user names, passwords, e-mail accounts, and ISPs approved by the Probation Officer. Computer and computer -related devices include, but are not limited to, personal computers, personal data assistants (PDAs), Internet appliances, electronic games, and cellular telephones, as well as peripheral equipment, that can access, or can be modified to access, the Internet, electronic bulletin boards, other computers, or similar media. Defendant shall use any approved computers only within the scope of his employment. Defendant shall not access a computer for any other purpose. Defendant shall immediately report to the Probation Officer any changes in defendant's employment affecting defendant's access and/or use of computers or the Internet, including e-mail;
9. All computers, computer-related devices, computer storage media, and peripheral equipment used by defendant shall be subject to search and seizure, and subject to the installation of search and/or monitoring software and/or hardware, including unannounced seizure for the purpose of search. Defendant shall not add, remove upgrade, update, reinstall, repair, or otherwise modify the hardware or software on any computers, computer related devices, or peripheral equipment without the prior approval of the Probation Officer, nor shall defendant hide or encrypt files or data. Further, defendant shall, as requested by the Probation Officer, provide all billing records, including telephone, cable, Internet, satellite, and similar records;
The defendant shall maintain one personal checking account. All of defendant’s income, “monetary gains,” or other pecuniary proceeds shall be deposited into this account, which shall be used for payment of all personal expenses. Records of all other bank accounts, including any business accounts, shall be disclosed to the Probation Officer upon request.
The defendant shall not transfer, sell, give away, or otherwise convey any asset with a fair market value in excess of $500 without approval of the Probation Officer until all financial obligations imposed by the Court have been satisfied in full.
The terms also state:
In addition to the special conditions of supervision imposed above, it is hereby ordered that the Standard Conditions of Probation and Supervised Release within this judgment be imposed. The Court may change the conditions of supervision, reduce or extend the period of supervision, and at any time during the supervision period or within the maximum period permitted by law, may issue a warrant and revoke supervision for a violation occurring during the supervision period.
He signed a provision stating:
Upon a finding of violation of probation or supervised release, I understand that the court may (1) revoke supervision, (2) extend the term of supervision, and/or (3) modify the conditions of supervision. These conditions have been read to me. I fully understand the conditions and have been provided a copy of them.
Reading through the terms of probation, it's hard to believe Nakoula didn't commit some violation, even if only technical. While he's been released today, I won't be surprised if its just temporary, while the feds put a case together for violation of supervised release. If they do, it probably won't be public until after he's arrested or turns himself in and makes his first appearance.
Is it possible the sheriff put a little spin on his release and he was released into federal protective custody -- with his consent? He could be the most hated man in the world right now. They certainly wouldn't just arrest him and put him into a regular detention facility or jail.
Whatever really happened with him today, I'm sure we haven't heard the last of him.
Update: The LA Times on the "fiery Orange County Cleric" who influenced the filmmakers. He is Zakaria Botros Henein, sometimes called Islam's Public Enemy No. 1.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who paid the actors and organized the production, spoke openly of his devotion to the cleric while in federal prison the year before the August 2011 shoot.
....Jailed several times in his native Egypt for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, he was exiled by Hosni Mubarak's government in the early 1990s in exchange for an early release. He fled to Australia and ran a parish there for more than a decade, before departing in the midst of a dispute with the Coptic pope over his authoritarian style....Early in the last decade, he relocated to Orange County, where he bought real estate. He kept his whereabouts quiet, but his ministry continued.
.....Botros' views are in sharp contrast to those of mainstream Coptic leaders, who have condemned the film.
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