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Sandy Annabi sentence: Feds slam bid for stay of prison start date

Former Yonkers City Council member Sandy Annabi leaves

Former Yonkers City Council member Sandy Annabi leaves federal court after her sentencing in Manhattan. (Nov. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Rory Glaeseman

Federal prosecutors have filed a blistering retort to former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi's emergency appeal to delay the Monday start of her six-year prison sentence for public corruption.

Annabi filed papers Tuesday with the U.S. Second Court of Appeals asking that a panel of judges allow her to remain free while her bail appeal is pending.

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon on Monday rejected Annabi's first bid to delay the reporting date. Annabi, 42, and her co-conspirator, former Yonkers GOP boss Zehy Jereis, 40, are scheduled to report to federal prison by 2 p.m. that day. Jereis has not asked for any extension.

On Tuesday, Annabi's lawyer, Edward Sapone, filed papers asking the federal appeals court to grant her bail, saying she was no threat to the community and no flight risk.

But late Wednesday night, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Perry Carbone and Jason P.W. Halperin filed a 63-page opposition package that ridiculed Annabi's bid to avoid prison.

"After spending nearly an entire year on release after being convicted on all counts, Annabi asks this court to consider her 'emergency' motion for a stay of her surrender date and for bail pending appeal," Carbone wrote. "The only 'emergency' is the fact that Annabi has been ordered to surrender in five days, and is doing everything she can to adjourn that date."

Annabi and Jereis -- her cousin and political mentor -- were convicted March 30 by a federal jury in Manhattan on charges that Jereis bribed Annabi with nearly $200,000 in gifts and cash over several years to control her vote on the City Council. Prosecutors said she changed her vote at Jereis' behest on two proposed development projects in the city: the controversial Ridge Hill development, a $600 million apartment and shopping complex; and a smaller school redevelopment plan called the Longfellow Project.

McMahon sentenced a tearful Annabi Nov. 19 to six years in a federal prison and a stoic Jereis to four years. At the time, the judge said she did not believe the married Jereis' story that the gifts and cash were not bribes but a bid to win Annabi's heart. Prosecutors said Jereis concocted the lovelorn story -- even creating fake romance-laced emails -- to further the lie of love.

"The only love these two shared was a love of money," Carbone said during the trial.

Annabi, who likely will serve her time at the federal prison in Danbury, Conn., cried at her sentencing that she was innocent but "accepted help without question and often buried my head in the sand."

Sapone said Tuesday that Annabi had no intention of fleeing the country because she still professes her innocence.

"Ms. Annabi is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community," Sapone wrote in court papers asking the appeals judges to allow Annabi to remain free on bail, "and Ms. Annabi's appeal raises substantial questions of law and fact likely to result in reversal or a new trial."

Carbone brushed off any notion that Annabi would be successful in overturning her conviction, calling the evidence against her and Jereis "overwhelming."

And he called her a liar.

"Put simply, Annabi lied repeatedly to her constituents, to her council colleagues and the mayor, to anyone doing business with the City of Yonkers, and to the citizens of Yonkers," Carbone wrote.

Annabi has declined numerous requests for comment. Her lawyer did not immediately reply to a request for comment Thursday morning.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals could issue a ruling based solely on the two sides' filings or order a hearing on the matter. The next open court date in front of the panel in Manhattan is Tuesday.

Carbone asked the judges to flat-out deny the bail bid, saying Annabi had "failed to identify a question of law or fact," while noting McMahon gave her nearly four months of freedom between Annabi's sentencing and her prison due date.

"There is . . . no support in the record for Annabi's request for a stay of her surrender date," he wrote. "While the District Court found no basis in the law to grant Annabi bail pending appeal, it set a surrender date that was nearly four months after the sentencing date. Annabi, however, waited until the week before her surrender date to seek bail."

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