telexfree-logoKinda saw this one coming…

A federal judge has ordered that TelexFree Inc. co-owner James Merrill be released from detention while he awaits trial in the $1 billion fraud case.

Under the conditions of his release, Merrill, who was arrested in May, was placed in his wife Kristen Merrill’s custody and must live at his family’s home in Ashland. He is required to wear a GPS device, remain in his home every day from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and he cannot leave the state.

Merrill aos must put up a bond of $900,000 secured by his house, the home of his sister, Julie Merrill Wisell in Sutton, and another property in East Falmouth. He also must give up his passport.

Given the conditions that were proposed by Merrill’s own lawyers (most of which have been enforced as per above), I didn’t think there was much merit to keeping Merrill in jail.

On the other hand…

Federal Judge Timothy S. Hillman in Worcester ruled on Tuesday that “this is a close case,” but cited Merrill’s “strong family and community ties” in his decision, noting that he and his wife have been married for 23 years, have lived in Ashland since 1997, and are the parents of three children.

Hillman also cited Merrill’s record of coaching “youth sports teams in the community.”

Hillman said given “the inability of the government to more fully substantiate its contention that Merrill has the international funds and contacts that would allow him to successfully flee the country, this Court finds that Merrill should be released,” subject to conditions.

If Merrill does manage to escape, what a farce that’ll turn out to be!

What I did find a bit contradictory to that last statement above was this from the Judge:

Hillman said that while the government points to Merrill’s international network of supporters, “it has not offered proof that there are any individuals, with the possible exception of Wanzeler, who would actually help Merrill flee.”

So uh what, Wanzeler can help Merrill flee with the access to millions of undisclosed Ponzi funds but um, he doesn’t count?

Ball’s in your court Merrill, 20 years or flee. Your move.