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Strauss-Kahn hires Michael Jackson lawyer ... and ex-CIA spies


Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn


Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has bought himself freedom on bail and secured a luxury townhouse in Manhattan, where he must drum his fingers until his trial.

But Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief accused of sexual assault, is busy investing in something more vital: the defence team he hopes will keep him out of prison for good.

Money is being spent quickly to win the services not only of braggadocio-filled lawyers like Benjamin Brafman, whose past clients have included P Diddy and Michael Jackson, but also figures more used to operating in the shadows.

Former CIA spies may be on board, as well as a retired US diplomat, a secretive security and investigative firm in New York and some well-connected PR pals from Paris.

The defendant, known around the world now by his initials, DSK, has denied the charges against him of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching, all arising from an encounter with a hotel maid in Manhattan on May 14.

Even so, with the trial still months away, he may want to test the premise that justice is blind to money and social stature.

His lawyers told a judge at his arraignment that he was worth “roughly $2m”. But they added that Ann Sinclair, his wife and the granddaughter of the art collector Paul Rosenberg, had “substantially greater assets”.

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It is Ms Sinclair, who rushed to New York when her husband was arrested, who found the townhouse (monthly rental $50,000) and has led the hiring spree so preparations for the trial can begin.

Not that the prosecutors' bench at trial won't have its own formidable talent. Cyrus Vance, the new District Attorney of Manhattan, will give this case, which will be devoured by the media, everything he has to ensure a conviction. The lead so far for the DA's office has been John McConnell. Mr Vance has recently assigned another three of his best legal brains to help him.

Joan Illuzzi-Orbon will join the team. Her recent roster of high-profile cases has included the prosecution of the rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty to a gun charge in 2009.

Also assigned to the case is assistant DA Ann Prunty, who has been involved in the case of Nicholas Brooks, the son of the late songwriter Joseph Brooks, who is accused of killing a fashion designer at the Soho House club in Manhattan.

For DSK, it isn't just legal help he needs, however. There is the media to manipulate on both sides of the Atlantic.

And there is opposition research to be completed. That will include arming his defence team with any information about his accuser, the maid from the Sofitel, which might undermine her credibility.

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