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The former money manager of the Islamic Center of Washington, charged with embezzling more than $400,000 of the mosque’s funds, is headed to trial. Farzad Darui was indicted in June for allegedly altering more than 200 checks to divert money from a special account into companies he owned and controlled. But his lawyers say that the money was fair reimbursement for his housing and feeding several of the director’s mistresses in apartments Darui owns in Virginia. He also alleges the mosque’s director, Abdullah Khouj, used the account for such personal expenses. “There was all kinds of money coming out of this account that was not for the Islamic Center,” Victoria Toensing of diGenova & Toensing, one of Darui’s lawyers, argued last week at a hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Royce Lamberth struck Darui’s motion to dismiss earlier this month, setting the stage for a trial that could expose deep divisions in the center’s membership. Darui, an Iranian-American, alleges he is facing retaliation for trying to keep Islamic radicals out of the mosque, which is one of the country’s oldest and largest. Khouj, who is Saudi, has been its director for more than 20 years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe, addressing Lamberth at the Nov. 19 hearing, called Darui’s allegations “unfounded” and “irrelevant.” He said that the government has strong evidence that the money was intended for the center and that Khouj had not authorized Darui to dip into it.
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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