A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a New York City police officer from Long Island accused of being an agent of China held without bail pending trial, overruling a federal magistrate who said the officer should be released on $1 million bond.
The decision to deny bond to Baimadajie Angwang, 33, of Williston Park, because he was a flight risk was a "close case," U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee said in his ruling from federal court in Brooklyn.
Angwang, a naturalized citizen from Tibet, was arrested in September on charges, including providing information on the Tibetan community in New York to his handlers at the Chinese consulate in New York, and failing to register as an agent of that country.
Angwang's alleged conduct, as outlined by federal prosecutors, eventually outweighed the arguments by the defense attorney for the officer that his client was not a flight risk, the judge said.
The judge noted that John Carman, Angwang’s attorney, had argued that people accused of similar crimes had not received very lengthy sentences, and his client had surrendered his passport, had close family in New York, and would be restrained by "the moral suasion" of nine people who agreed to be responsible for the $1 million bond.
Carman, of Garden City, had argued that if Angwang had been released, he would have been confined to the home he owns in Williston Park and monitored with an electronic bracelet.
Federal Magistrate Lois Bloom had ordered Angwang released on the $1 million bond on those conditions Friday, but Eastern District federal prosecutor Michael Keilty immediately appealed the decision to Komitee, who ordered the release stayed, pending his review of the case.
Komitee said in his decision that the "Defendant clearly has strong ties to China, a country with which the United States has no extradition treaty," as well as "significant financial resources."
The judge also said both Angwang and his wife have relatives in China, "and their two-year-old daughter is not yet school-aged, thus lessening the potential social and familial cost of flight."
Komitee also said that though Angwang was not charged with espionage, he still faced as much as 55 years in prison, if convicted, and the government had what appeared to be a potential strong case against him.
The government presented a number of cases of people convicted of similar charges who got sentences of between 18 to 120 months, and most had been detained pending trial, Komitee said.
Carman said he is appealing the latest ruling.
"We are naturally disappointed that Judge Bloom’s thoughtful decision was overturned," Carman said in a prepared statement.
John Marzulli, a spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors, declined to comment.