Alleged Ponzi scheme artist Joe Meli is being denied a chance to fly to Israel to watch his son compete in a soccer game, with the federal judge presiding over his case ruling he is a potential flight risk. Meli, a former board member of ticketing consolidation firm DTI, is facing years in prison for his involvement.
Meli had been hoping to travel to Israel from July 7 to July 16 to watch his son play with the USA Junior Boys Soccer team in the 20th World Maccabiah Games, where 10,000 athletes from 78 countries compete.
“This will be Jackson’s first, last, and only chance to compete in the Maccabiah Games – a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both Jackson and Mr. Meli. Mr. Meli is a devoted father, who takes great interest in attending Jackson’s soccer games,” Meli’s lawyer Daniel Fetterman wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.
Understanding the court might be hesitant to grant the request, Meli offered to surrender the passport of his three-year-old son, who will stay behind with grandparents.
“We believe that surrendering his youngest son’s passport ameliorates the flight risk in this case, as Mr. Meli would never abandon his youngest son,” Fetterman wrote.
Wood denied the request, citing a recorded conversation the prosecution played during a bail hearing in which Meli is alleged to have said he got his “passport and valuables and I’m draining my bank accounts.” Lawyers for Meli say the recorded conversation was an exaggeration, that he had already surrendered his passport to the court and the money he withdrew is being used for legal fees.
In denying the request, Wood said she was doing so “on the grounds that Meli poses a flight risk, not withstanding his offer to surrender his youngest son’s passport, based on the recorded conversations listed above.”
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