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Man Released on $10 Million Bond

ORLANDO -- A Palestinian-American businessman charged with money laundering and violating immigration laws was released from a federal jail Friday on $10 million bond.

Jesse Maali, millionaire owner of a tourist shop and restaurant empire in Orlando, must remain in central Florida and wear an electronic monitoring device.

"He's ecstatic," said Maali's son, Chad Maali. "Once we get him home, we can start preparing for the trial." Arraignment is set for Wednesday. Attorney Mark NeJame said his client will enter a plea of innocent.

Jesse Maali put up $500,000 for his bond and used his business property as collateral for $5 million. He owns T-shirt shops, gift shops and restaurants near area theme parks and hotels.

Maali, who has been charged with money laundering and 54 counts of violating immigration laws, was granted bond earlier this week after a federal magistrate dismissed FBI concerns that he was tied to terrorism.

Prosecutors have accused the 57-year-old businessman of providing money to terrorist organizations.

" That's a bunch of garbage," said Sam Qubty, a friend of Maali. "The judge realized that smoke screen and threw it out."

Copyright © 2002, The Herald Tribune
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