By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 7, 2009 2:43 PM
A federal judge today refused to throw out charges that the former business manager of the Islamic Center of Washington embezzled $430,000 from the mosque during a six-year period.
Defense attorneys for Farzad Darui, the former manager, had asked Chief U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth to toss the case or block testimony by a key witness. They alleged that the witness, the center's director and religious leader, lied to investigators and on the witness stand during Darui's trial last year.
The trial ended in a hung jury, and prosecutors are seeking to retry him on mail fraud, money laundering and theft charges.
Darui alleged that he had been authorized by the center's director, Abdullah Khouj, to pay off debts of two women and to pay informants for tips about the mosque's security. But Khouj testified that Darui had stolen the money without his knowledge.
Lamberth ruled that defense lawyers failed to prove the government had engaged in misconduct by allowing Khouj to lie on the witness stand.
Darui's "spotty allegations do not provide grounds for such an extraordinary action," Lamberth wrote.
Noting that prosecutors' conduct "has at times not been exemplary," the judge added that their conduct "has not, in the court's opinion, sunk" to the point where the case should be tossed. Lamberth also refused to block Khouj from testifying during a retrial.