NEW YORK — Dominique Strauss-Kahn formally asserted his innocence Monday to charges he tried to rape a hotel maid, but the drama unfolded outside the Manhattan courtroom as protesters jeered the former International Monetary Fund leader and lawyers for the housekeeper said she was eager to testify despite a “smear campaign” against her.
Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys offered a rival account of the May 14 encounter at his $3,000-a-night Manhattan hotel suite, hinting again that the French diplomat might argue the encounter was consensual.
By the end of the case, “it will be clear that there was no element of forcible compulsion in this case whatsoever,” defense lawyer Ben Brafman said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not credible.”
Strauss-Kahn, looking resolute, declared “not guilty” in a strong voice in a routine legal proceeding that lasted less than 10 minutes as wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, watched. He said nothing else, save for “yes” when acknowledging he received a standard warning that he could be tried in absentia if he failed to appear.
It was the French diplomat’s first court appearance since he was released on $6 million in cash bail and bond last month. He has been under house arrest that includes 24-hour monitors and armed guards in a deluxe town house in the trendy TriBeCa neighborhood.
Ex-oil company accountant accused of embezzlement
HOUSTON — A former Houston oil services company accountant and several members of her family have been charged with first-degree felony theft. Prosectors say the woman stole more than $13 million from her employer over 10 years.
Harris County prosecutors say Nancy Moreno paid the money to dummy accounts from company funds while working at Davis-Lynch Inc. Prosecutor Wendy Baker says she then funneled money from those accounts to herself and several relatives.
Baker said Moreno had been “a trusted employee” who had taken years to build that trust. She said the money was paid to dummy vendors with names similar to legitimate vendors.
Federal government’s use of snail mail has increased, study finds
WASHINGTON — The federal government delivers Social Security checks and processes tax returns electronically, but its use of the old-fashioned mail systems is soaring nonetheless, according to a new study.
Declining mail volume has caused a plunge in the U.S. Postal Service’s total revenue in recent years, but the federal government’s use of first-class mail jumped 11 percent from 1997 to 2010, according to research by two top officials with the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the Postal Service.
The federal government was the largest single user of the mail system, accounting for more than 2 percent of the money spent on first-class mail last year, the authors said. Together, states across the country spend about the same amount as the federal government with the postal service each year.
Government agencies spent at least $1 billion a year on mailing and shipping over roughly the same period, plus $200 million to $250 million on packages sent through private companies such as FedEx and UPS, the study by Michael J. Ravnitzky and J.P. Klingenberg concludes.