Manhattan Prosecutor Quits Strauss-Kahn Case Due to Conflict of Interest

A top New York prosecutor disqualified herself from the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn because her husband works for the International Monetary Fund chief’s defense lawyer.

Executive Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo, chief of the trial division at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, won’t work on the case, said Erin Duggan, the chief spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., in a statement.

Agnifilo recused herself from the case “as soon as the law firm of Brafman & Associates, with which her husband is associated, was engaged as counsel for the defendant,” Duggan said in today’s statement. “This is consistent with routine practice.”

Agnifilo is married to Marc Agnifilo, an attorney at New York-based Brafman & Associates PC. Benjamin Brafman has been hired as defense counsel for Strauss-Kahn and has said his client will plead not guilty to the charges that he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a New York hotel housekeeper.

Strauss-Kahn, denied bail at a May 16 hearing, filed a new request today to be released while awaiting trial and will return to court tomorrow.

“It’s a loss for the DA’s office not to have Karen involved,” said Tom Curran, a New York defense attorney and former Manhattan assistant district attorney. Curran, who isn’t involved in the case, said that the office has highly qualified prosecutors to take her place.

“In crimes where sexual misconduct is alleged, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office wrote the book,” he said.

The office established the country’s first Sex Crimes Unit in the 1970s.

Karen Friedman Agnifilo and Marc Agnifilo didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Freifeld in New York at kfreifeld@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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