A second detention hearing for Gary Kaplan concluded in St. Louis this morning with still no decision on whether the BetonSports founder is too much of a flight risk to be released on bail. The gamut of testimony covered steroid usage, an alleged kidnapping, passport fraud and Kaplan's dedication to his family.
Kaplan entered the courtroom in blue prison garb with hands cuffed behind him, appearing very muscular, fit and healthy. The all-star defense team, headed by Dick Deguerin, presented several affidavits to refute claims that Kaplan is a flight risk. Their main argument was that Kaplan should be released on bail because he is above all else a family man. They noted that his family wishes to be a part of the St. Louis community, that they have bought a house there, and that his children will go to school there. They also said that Kaplan was in some ways relieved to be back in the States because he had intended to surrender but wanted to first have Easter dinner with his family in the Dominican Republic. Kaplan's wife, parents, sister, brother and sister-in-law were all in the court room this morning.
Prosecutors later countered, however, that the fact that Kaplan traveled so frequently and had so much cash and so many photos and passports shows that he has no ties to community or family, and therefore doesn't fulfill bail requirements under community ties rules. They also doubted that Kaplan planned to surrender after Easter, since 10 months had passed between the unsealing of the indictments and his apprehension. Prosecutors also claimed that Kaplan had been using steroids for bodybuilding, something a man concerned for his children would not do.
Deguerin said the U.S. government is incorrect in saying that Kaplan has a $100 million trust that he could use to flee because those funds are domiciled on the isle of Jersey and have been frozen under litigation.
Deguerin also said the conditions at Lincoln County Jail where Kaplan is being held do not have sufficient facilities where Kaplan can communicate with his attorneys to help them build his case. He also pointed out that Kaplan had not been involved in the BetonSports business for several years, having sold out when the company floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2004. Deguerin says Kaplan is not a fugitive because he did not flee the U.S. In fact, Kaplan has not been in the U.S. for ten years because he wanted to be in a jurisdiction where his business activities are legal.
The defense team was even able to explain away the handcuffs key and passports Kaplan was carrying at the time of his capture. They said he had the handcuffs key because he had been kidnapped for ransom in Venezuela for several days, and his intermediary had given him the key after he was freed. The team admitted there was no excuse for the two fraudulent Peruvian passports, but they said the Costa Rican passport's incorrect social security number was due to an administrative error. They also said that what had been mistaken for an Israeli passport was really nothing more than a travel document. They said he had such a document because he had applied for Israeli citizenship in 2004.
A further hearing on Kaplan's situation will take place in about a month. Meanwhile, the defense team has asked for no decision in the cases of the other BetonSports defendants until they have had a chance to file motions. They do not expect objections from the other defendants.