U.S. prosecutors and lawyers for a diplomat whose arrest triggered an outcry in India are at odds over a possible plea deal.
A letter filed Tuesday by attorneys for Devyani Khobragade accused federal prosecutors in Manhattan of trying to pressure her into pleading guilty by next week. They renewed a request for an extension of the Jan. 13 deadline for an indictment “to eliminate pressure on the situation and permit efforts which are ongoing [to] resolve this matter.”
The letter came in response to a filing on Monday by prosecutors saying they had “participated in hours of discussions in the hope of negotiating a plea that could be entered in court before Jan. 13.” It said there had been no response to the government’s latest offer.
Prosecutors’ filing violated an agreement not to discuss the negotiations publicly, the defense letter said. “We can only think that the violation was a distressingly calculated one,” it said.
Khobragade, 39, India’s deputy consul general in New York, has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges alleging she claimed to pay her Indian maid $4,500 per month but actually gave her far less than the U.S. minimum wage. Her arrest last month sparked outrage in India after revelations that she was body-searched and thrown in a cell with other criminal defendants before being released on $250,000 bail.