By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
Rehman apparently didn't mind burning those who did him favors.
Mesam Alvani, a 24-year-old who lives in Plantation, had the misfortune of meeting Rehman several years ago at the mosque they both attended in Miami. He and several other men socialized with Rehman on occasion and once had dinner at Rehman's home. He recalls him as a not particularly religious man, given to talkativeness, bordering on bragging. "He spent a lot of time on a laptop," Alvani says.
Rehman hijacked Alvani's AOL account as well as other financial documents while Alvani was in Pakistan during an extended stay and racked up about $4,000 in bills, Alvani says. This was partly why police had difficulty tracking down Michael. When Alvani's circle of friends learned that Rehman had been arrested for molestation, Alvani says, "We felt really sick. After that, we don't even feel like talking about that person."
The Mitsubishi that Rehman used during the assignation belonged to Nafis Hasan, a 58-year-old Coral Springs woman who speaks little English. According to her son, Komail Hasan, the family had known Rehman in Pakistan and, because of that, allowed him to borrow the car occasionally. It took them three weeks and about $1,200 to get the car back from police. Not surprisingly, they feel betrayed. "You'd never even imagine that he could do that," Hasan says of Rehman's actions.
Meanwhile, Jaemi and Mitch Levine were preparing for their October 2 wedding. Given Rehman's confession, she wasn't particularly concerned about the case or Rehman.
"He should have been held in the Broward County Jail until any kind of bail and bond was set for him," Levine says now. "Because there was an immigration hold on him, he'd be held at Krome [Detention Center in Miami] until he was found either guilty or innocent. If he served a sentence, he'd be deported after that. I understood that I didn't have to worry about him being on the street again -- period."
Indeed, had the Broward State Attorney's Office charged Rehman in a timely manner, that's probably what would have happened. But for reasons that remain murky, the case was colossally mishandled.
"There was a period of time in there in which things can't be accounted for," offers Dennis Siegel, who's in charge of the SAO's sex crimes prosecution unit. "For whatever reason, the case just got processed a little... we made a mistake, simply put; we made a mistake. It took us longer to process than it should have."
"I can't tell you for that specific case. Our office at any given time has 600 to 800 cases pending in this unit. To be able to account for every bit of time for every case is just impossible. There were some issues that contributed to it taking longer, but overwhelmingly, the fault was ours for not processing it quickly enough.
"But by the same token, we had been told and knew there was an immigration hold that was pending anyhow. It doesn't excuse us taking too long, but we almost thought there was a backup in there as far as keeping a hold on him."
Levine and the prosecutor in the case, James Weick Jr., immediately clashed, partly because she didn't think he was going after Rehman with vigor. Weick, a veteran prosecutor who by his own count has handled more than 250 jury trials, has a penchant for bluntness. Now in private practice, Weick handled an average of 60 to 75 cases at any given time while in the sex crimes unit.
"There was a delay in getting a police report from the Coral Springs Police Department," Weick explains. "There was a delay in getting the daughter in for the pretrial interview. I had to do an investigative request to get the family to come in because they did not come in, for whatever reason. After they came in, there were some problems with the girl's testimony which I can't get into. It took some time to get her to open up and discuss that. Then from there, whatever the process between Dennis [Siegel] and me took some time."
Levine scoffs at that explanation. She'd been in steady communication with Ron Jones, the Coral Springs detective who handled the case. (Jones did not return phone messages left by New Times requesting an interview.) He's told her that the paperwork was filed in a timely manner.
As for scheduling Stephanie's interview, Levine says the first notice she got was finding a subpoena stuck to her door when she returned three days after her October 2 wedding -- almost a month after the arrest. "It wasn't served to anyone, just left on the door," she says. "I have four different numbers I'd given the State Attorney's Office, but this is the only notice I got."
Unknown to Levine, however, was that Weick had submitted his resignation on October 6, a development that became a distraction from the case.
Weick accepts responsibility -- though not without some angels dancing on a pin head. "There's blame on my part because my focus certainly was on things about leaving the office," he admits. "But I'd gotten the file to my supervisor [Siegel] before that time period ran out. But I probably wasn't as diligent as I could have been to make sure he got it filed in time."