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House arrest: What ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn can expect

House arrest offers major advantages over jail. But the confinement comes with a price – including, in Strauss-Kahn's case, a $200,000-a-month bill for his guards.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / May 20, 2011

Former leader of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, listens to proceedings in his case in New York State Supreme Court, May 19. A judge set bail at $1 million Thursday, and approved an elaborate arrangement under which the 62-year-old diplomat and banker would be confined to a private apartment in Manhattan and monitored by armed guards at his own expense.

Richard Drew / AP

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New York

After six nights at Rikers Island, former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn will get to spend his nights in a Manhattan apartment—and most of his days, as well. Mr. Strauss-Kahn, charged with the sexual attack of a hotel housekeeper, begins “house arrest” on May 20.

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“He is a prisoner in his home – but that is far preferable than being a guest of the state of New York,” says Robert Mintz, a former US Attorney, now a partner at McCarter & English in Newark, N.J.

In fact, Strauss-Kahn, one of the leading contenders to be President of France in 2012, might even be able to get a croque-monsieur delivered from one of New York’s many French restaurants – and instead of a cellmate, lives with his wife.

Normally reserved for white-collar criminals not considered a threat to other people, house arrest is rarely an option for those, like Strauss-Kahn, accused of violent crimes, former prosecutors note.

Some white-collar criminals recently sentenced to home confinement include:

  • Bernard Madoff, who bilked people out of billions in a Ponzi scheme
  • Martha Stewart, who served five months of home confinement after her conviction for lying to federal investigators
  • Raj Rajaratnam, one of the founders of the Galleon hedge fund, who remains under house arrest after his conviction for insider trading, earlier this month.

Strauss-Kahn: Flight risk?

Many home arrests are individually tailored. Sometimes they allow work, but no movement at night or weekends. Strauss-Kahn is under a stricter confinement, to maximize the chance he will show up for trial, says Stan Twardy, a former US Attorney and a partner with Day Pitney in Stamford, Conn.

Strauss-Kahn will only be allowed to leave the apartment for religious services, medical purposes, and court appearances. He will have an armed guard in his apartment at all times, and he will wear an electronic bracelet around his ankle.

Prosecutors, particularly concerned because France does not extradite its own citizens, opposed Strauss-Kahn’s release on bail.

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