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Sandy Annabi asks court to delay March 4 prison date

Sandy Annabi and her attorney, Edward Sapone, head

Sandy Annabi and her attorney, Edward Sapone, head to federal court in Manhattan for Annabi's sentencing. (Nov. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Rory Glaeseman

A week before she is set to begin serving a six-year prison term for public corruption, former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi's request to delay her surrender date was denied.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon on Monday refused to postpone Annabi's March 4 imprisonment, but the 42-year-old Democrat has kicked her appeal up to a three-judge panel asking it to allow her to remain free while the case winds through the courts.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals could immediately rule on her request or order a hearing be held in Manhattan to decide the matter.

Her lawyer, Edward Sapone, on Tuesday asked the appellate court to let Annabi remain free while her bail request is under consideration.

"Ms. Annabi is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community," Sapone wrote, "and Ms. Annabi's appeal raises substantial questions of law and fact likely to result in reversal or a new trial."

In December, McMahon rejected a bid by Annabi to travel to Florida, calling her "a substantial flight risk." The judge cited Annabi's "extensive ties" to Jordan, her parents' native country.

In an interview Tuesday with News12, Sapone denied that his client is a flight risk.

"She has 100 percent confidence in the system," he said. "She believes her conviction will be reversed."

On Friday, Sapone sent a one-page letter to McMahon in which he wrote that Annabi "seeks an order from your honor extending her surrender date two weeks after any decision by the Second Circuit on her motion."

Without comment, McMahon denied the request.

Federal prosecutors Perry Carbone and Jason P.W. Halperin are expected to file papers Thursday with the appeals court opposing Sapone's request for bail and enforcing the March 4 surrender date.

A jury convicted Annabi and former Yonkers GOP boss Zehy Jereis on March 30 of conspiring to sell her vote on development projects in the city -- including the controversial $600 million Ridge Hill project in which Annabi cast the deciding vote in favor of the shopping-residential complex after staunchly opposing it.

Jereis was found guilty of paying her nearly $200,000 in bribes through cash and gifts during several years. She changed her vote in June 2006 at his behest after he secured the promise of a consulting job for himself from the developer, prosecutors said. Jereis -- who was sentenced to four years in prison -- has not filed a request for an extension beyond his March 4 surrender date.

At their trial, Jereis, 40 -- who is Annabi's cousin -- had maintained that he had lavished gifts and money on Annabi in an attempt to romance her. During the Nov. 19 sentencing, McMahon said she, like the jury, didn't accept that story and scolded Annabi for making herself vulnerable.

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

With Nik Bonopartis

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