Thursday, October 21, 2004


Dhafir Trial--Opening Arguments

Today's opening arguments at Rafil's trial was a study in contrasts and style. The government began with a thorough and detailed power point presentation with lots of charts and graphs. The defense, Devereaux Cannick, followed with an emotional appeal that in essence challenged the prosecution to 'bring on it'.

Whom you thought did better depended upon your preference. Although Devereaux clearly had the best line when he in effect said that, ' No one is better than the government with a laser and light show. But…' He went on to say that the government's fact and figures were wrong or at least substantially bloated. He did this by noting that the government's claim that Rafil ripped Medicare off for $1,1000 was really 15% of that amount or $165. (The government claims that Rafil over-charged Medicare by claiming he was present for procedures when he was not. By being present Rafil could charge 15% more. Because of the Judge's pre-ruling that the defense cannot question the government's intent in arresting Rafil--they cannot point out that the FBI asked Medicare to scour Rafil's records to show that he was overcharging Medicare to fund terrorist operations.)

The prosecution's presentation hinged on the 60 counts against Rafil. They began by with mentioning that he broke the sanctions against Iraq and went on to mention other charges revolving around his charity--impeding the IRS, mail and wire fraud and deceiving donors. There were also charges relating to Medicare fraud and using charitable funds for personal uses. Depending whom you asked, the prosecution's presentation was either detailed and thorough, or very boring.

Devereaux constantly reminded the jury that they need to look at the evidence and not take the prosecution at face value. He asked them to not prejudge and be objective. In a show of confidence he said that he was looking forward to questioning the government's witnesses, implying that the government's case was weak.

We heard about how keen the government was go after Rafil and to what extent. We heard about bugs, meetings taped and spies. We learned about Colleen Williams, a CPA and JD, whom Rafil hired to fix accounting problems but was actually a spy for the government. All the while she claimed to helping Rafil she was reporting to the FBI at night.

Devereaux also said that the date of arresting Rafil was February 26, 2003 because the person (can't remember name) that worked on the charity's books was set to return from medical leave in early March. It seems that some of the stuff Colleen Williams was working on would have been finally fixed. I have always thought and still do that Rafil was a victim of Operation Imminent Horizon ( A government's effort to harass and arrest anyone with any suspected connection to Iraq ahead of the war. Remember Rafil, a naturalized citizen of the USA, is from Iraq.

I was shocked to learn that the FBI knocked down the door of his house the day arrest knocking his wife Priscilla to the floor. Lets not forget that 85 FBI and Department of Defense agents descended upon his house the day of his arrest. Devereaux asked why they would knock down his door?, for white-collar crimes?

Devereaux's question is at the crux of what is wrong with this case and the question the defense is not allowed to ask? Why did the government go after Rafil?

Why did the government spend hundreds of millions of dollars in monitoring him?
Why did they send 85 agents to arrest him and break down his door? Don't forget that Rafil was already in a police car outside of his home.
Why did they inappropriately interrogate 150 Muslim families the day of his arrest?
Why has the government continually stifled dissent and those supporting the Dr?
Did they spend all this time, effort and money because Rafil was guilty of Medicare Fraud?

They went after Rafil because they were looking for trophies in the war on terrorism. The Judge has prevented Devereaux from pointing this out. The Judge could not prevent Devereaux from telling the jury that the government sometimes gets things wrong, as it did with the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction. He noted that as it was with the WMD's, the government is reticent to admit when they are wrong.

And what does the government do when it is wrong? It smears those that can expose them. Just look at what has happened to people such as Richard Clark and ex Treasury Secretary O'Neill.

Hope to see you Monday in court.

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