By Michael Smerconish, Hardball guest host
Even before we knew he’d await trial in a $50,000 per month Manhattan townhouse, I was against bail for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. It wasn’t the prospect of the former head of International Monetary Fund living in a posh, 6,800 square foot, four-bedroom townhouse that had me worried, it was the French legal system, should he find a way home.
Many observers of the case - including the prosecutors - have invoked the name Roman Polanski in making the case against leniency for DSK.
But there is a better example: Ira Einhorn. Einhorn is the slovenly, self-appointed hippie guru who was convicted in 2002 of murdering his former girlfriend Holly Maddux.
But the road to that conviction took twenty-five difficult years - and finally happened despite the obstinance of DSK’s enlightened countrymen. Maddux was a college coed at the University of Pennsylvania, a Texas beauty and former cheerleader who oddly, fell for Einhorn.
They broke up. When she returned to collect her belongings, Einhorn bludgeoned her to death and stuffed her body in a trunk he then stored in the closet. For a year and a half, he pretended he didn’t know where she’d gone.
Two medical students in the unit below Einhorn’s began noticing a putrid smell. And an odd unidentifiable brown liquid began seeping through their ceiling. By 1979, investigators had pieced together enough evidence for a warrant and searched the apartment. When they opened the trunk, Einhorn said, “You found what you found.”
On the eve of his trial in 1981, Einhorn slipped out of Philadelphia and the U.S. - eventually finding his way to France. After nearly two decades on the lam, he was located in French wine country - married to a wealthy Swedish beauty - and arrested in 1997.
Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham spent the next few years sending lawyers to France to argue for his extradition. But a conviction in absentia - as Einhorn had been in Philadelphia in 1993 - didn’t sit well with France’s aristocratic sensibilities.
The French refused to hand over an American convicted of murder! They expressed concerns that he’d be subject to death, even though the death penalty was not on the books at the time he committed murder.
The Philly DA had to actually convince Pennsylvania’s state legislature to pass a law that would guarantee Einhorn wouldn’t be executed if he were returned to Pennsylvania.
All told, the delay was five years - and all the while the murderer lived the high life - while his French protectors refused to hand him over to our law enforcement. One can only imagine how far they would go to protect a fellow countryman, and onetime presidential aspirant.
As they’d say in South Philly: Fuggetaboudit!