More than three months after a federal judge ruled that a Lodi man may be released on $1.2 million bail while awaiting trial in a terrorism case, a judge on Wednesday rejected property that would have served as bond.
Umer Hayat, who turns 48 today, could try to find more property to secure his bail, but his attorney said government prosecutors would likely put up just as strong a fight as they had previously.
Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III said he would appeal Wednesday’s ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and hopes to have it filed within 30 days.
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said he was gratified by the ruling, which overturned the latest decision last month by a federal magistrate who approved bail for Umer Hayat.
Hayat was arrested in early June and charged with lying to the FBI by denying that his son attended an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan during 2003 and 2004.
His son, 23-year-old Hamid Hayat, was arrested the same day and faces charges of supporting terrorism and lying to investigators. He is being held without bail.
Three of Umer Hayat’s relatives had offered their property as insurance that he would not flee if released, and some of them testified more than once during an unusually strong fight regarding bail.
Among them was Hayat’s 80-year-old uncle, Sher Afzal, who has suffered a stroke and has significant memory problems. U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. decided Afzal was not legally competent to post properties he owns in Lodi.
In addition, the uncle’s property itself is inadequate to ensure Hayat doesn’t leave the country, Burrell ruled. He also rejected the testimony of Afzal’s son, Safdar Afzal, who stopped answering questions for fear of self-incrimination after prosecutors said he could be charged with lying to the FBI.
In the ongoing bail fight, two magistrate judges have approved bond for the elder Hayat in varying amounts. But Burrell said in a November ruling and at a hearing last month that he had doubts about Hayat’s relatives’ ability to post his bond.
“In light of the fact that the magistrate judge issued a very detailed, well reasoned opinion granting Umer Hayat’s release, I am surprised, disappointed and frustrated that the district court judge overruled the prior decision,” Griffin said Wednesday.
Scott, the U.S. attorney, said in a written statement that the government is pleased with Burrell’s latest decision.
No trial date has been set, though a status conference is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Burrell’s Sacramento courtroom.