The former chairman of Egypt’s Bank of Alexandria was held overnight at New York’s Riker’s Island jail complex after being arraigned in Manhattan on charges of sexually abusing a maid at the Pierre Hotel in New York.
Manhattan judge Gerald Lebovits around midnight last night set bail for Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, chairman of El-Mex Salines, at $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Omar also was ordered to surrender his travel documents, prosecutors said.
Omar, 72, was taken overnight to Riker’s Island, New York City’s main jail complex, located off the shore of northern Queens opposite LaGuardia Airport, Sharman Stein, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Correction, said in an interview. He can post bail there, she said. Riker’s is where Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief, was locked up last month on charges of sexual assault and attempted rape against a Midtown Manhattan hotel maid.
Unlike Strauss-Kahn, Omar is accused of “groping or molestation which, although serious, doesn’t carry with it the same penalties under the law,” Fred Sosinky, a New York defense attorney who isn’t involved in the case, said in an interview.
Omar was arrested May 30 after a 44-year-old female housekeeper alleged he attacked her the day before, according to a police spokesman.
Officers were called to the hotel in Midtown Manhattan after she informed security of an alleged incident when she went to Omar’s room after he requested tissues. Prosecutors said Omar is 72; police previously said 74.
Omar “wrapped his arms tightly around the informant’s body and while holding the informant, kissed the informant’s neck and lips,” Detective Efrain Curet said in the criminal complaint. Omar grabbed the maid a second time and groped her, according to the criminal complaint.
Police charged Omar with sexual abuse in the first degree, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching. He allegedly asked the maid for her telephone number and she gave a false one before leaving the room, police said. If convicted of the top charge, he faces as long as seven years behind bars.
Omar is scheduled to next appear in court June 3, possibly to see if a grand jury votes for indictment and a new lawyer, according to prosecutors. The attorney who represented him last night, Elizabeth Beal, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, is due back in court June 6. He was indicted on charges of first-degree criminal sex act, attempted rape and sexual abuse in the first degree. The top charges, for forced oral sex, are punishable by as long as 25 years in prison. His lawyer has said he denies the charges.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested May 14 and on May 16 ordered held without bail by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson after prosecutors said he was a flight risk. He was later granted bail by New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus.
Strauss-Kahn was released after posting $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond, and surrendering his passport. He must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and is under 24-hour armed guard at a rented townhouse in Lower Manhattan.
Omar is being held at the West Facility at Rikers Island, according to Stein. It is one of about 10 separate jails on 415 acres. West Facility, the same jail where Strauss-Kahn was held, primarily houses inmates with contagious diseases and can also be used for prisoners who need to be separated from others, Stephen Morello, another Correction Department spokesman, said last month.
Egyptian American Bank
Omar is the former chairman of the Egyptian American Bank and the Federation of Egyptian Banks, according to the El-Mex Salines company website.
The Pierre, where room rates start at $776 a night according to its website, is part of the Taj Group of Hotels. The hotel said it is cooperating with police.
The “Pierre’s priority is the safety of the guests and our staff,” the hotel said in a statement read over the telephone. “We take all complaints very seriously and investigate it thoroughly.”
The hotel suspended a supervisor who stopped the maid from immediately filing a complaint, the New York Daily News reported yesterday.
Osama Abdel Aziz, the executive manager at El-Mex, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment and calls to the company went unanswered yesterday. Nobody was immediately available for comment at Bank of Alexandria.
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