Tourist shop owner to stay free on bond

Published: Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 1:56 a.m.

ORLANDO - A federal magistrate on Friday refused to change the terms of bond for a tourist shop and restaurant millionaire accused of hiring illegal aliens, despite claims by a prosecutor that property used to secure the bond was purchased with tainted money.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Collazo had argued that two properties Jesse Maali used to secure his $10 million bond were acquired by money that came from illegal activities and could be seized by the government.

The properties were purchased with money from a checking account that received rent money from a chain of Big Bargain World stores Maali operated with illegal workers, Collazo said.

But U.S. Magistrate David A. Baker said he wouldn't change the conditions of bond.

Those conditions include Maali being hooked up to an electronic monitoring device in his mansion.

``I'm satisfied with the conditions previously set,'' Baker said.

Since his arrest late last year on charges of hiring 53 illegal workers, Collazo at various times has alleged that Maali, a Palestinian-American, has ties to terrorism, was a crime boss on International Drive, Orlando's main tourist strip, and intimidated government witnesses.

Such assertions were later discounted.

``If a person deposits money from an illegal activity into an account, it may taint the entire account,'' Collazo said.

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