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Judge denies Annabi's vacation request

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

Sandy Annabi won't get her moment in the sun before she begins her six-year prison sentence.

On Wednesday, a federal judge shot down the former Yonkers City Council member's request for permission to travel to Florida after a prosecutor warned that Annabi poses "a substantial flight risk."

Annabi's lawyer says his client simply wants to take a vacation before reporting to prison March 4, but a federal prosecutor said he fears Annabi could flee to Jordan to avoid serving time.

Annabi's parents are from Jordan, and she has traveled to the country before -- according to a New York Times report from 2010, Annabi was vacationing in Jordan when she received $30,000 in bribes for dropping her opposition to a housing development. Annabi has also met Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, Jordan's king.

The U.S. government signed an extradition treaty with Jordan in 1995, but extradition could be a lengthy process and is not guaranteed.

"The government opposes the defendant's request," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon on Tuesday. "As the government has maintained throughout the pendency of this proceeding, the defendant was and is a substantial flight risk. She has extensive ties to Jordan and, if she flees there, the government will likely be unable to compel her return."

The judge's decision to deny Annabi's request comes after the former two-term Democratic council member claimed late last month that she is addicted to Xanax, a prescription sedative. Federal prosecutors said those claims were dubious and likely "an attempt to game the system" in a late November letter to the U.S. Department of Probation.

Annabi, 42, was sentenced in November to six years in prison for taking bribes when she was a on the Yonkers City Council. Annabi, along with Yonkers Republican Zehy Jereis, 40, was convicted of scheming to sell Annabi's vote on two Yonkers development projects, including the recently opened Ridge Hill shopping development.

"The court permitted the defendant to remain free on bail after the sentencing so that she could get her affairs in order before she begins serving her prison term," Bharara wrote. "The court did not permit her to remain free on bail to engage in personal travel."

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