A controversy over a theft arrest by a nominee for a top Treasury post bears striking similarities to an incident by another Biden nominee — Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins — who was charged with receiving stolen property while a UMass student in 1991.
Saule Omarova, Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, was charged with misdemeanor “retail theft” in 1995, according to a report by Fox News.
The arrest showed up in a Wisconsin background check which is available to the public. Omarova’s case was ultimately dismissed through the Wisconsin first offender program.
The White House strongly defended Omarova, a Cornell Law School professor whose nomination is being targeted by some Republicans in the Senate because of her past writings about socialism and banking.
“To be clear, Saule has been fully transparent about this incident her entire career, including to the Senate, in applications and when she worked at the Treasury Department during the Bush administration,” a White House spokesperson said. “This case was ultimately dismissed in January 1996 — more than 25 years ago — and was the result of a misunderstanding and confusing situation.”
Rollins, nominated by Biden to be U.S. Attorney, has been less than transparent about her own arrest, which the Herald first reported when she was running her first DA campaign.
Rollins was just 19 when she was charged with receiving stolen property under $200, a misdemeanor, by Amherst Police, according to a court complaint obtained by the Herald.
She was arraigned in December 1991 and pleaded not guilty, according to court records. She paid court costs of $200 and five months later the case was continued without a finding and eventually dismissed.
The court records never said what the stolen property was and Rollins refused to release any details about the incident, except to say it was “minor” and “informed how she views criminal justice reform.”
Rollins’ campaign said at the time that her arrest never affected her career, which included four years in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“She has since passed federal clearance checks and state police background checks for her jobs for the state and federal governments,” according to a statement by her campaign.
A spokesman for the Suffolk DA’s office did not answer a Herald inquiry about Rollins’ case.
Rollins has drawn heat from Senate Republicans over her list of “minor” offenses like disorderly conduct, trespassing and shoplifting that she has refused to prosecute.
Receiving stolen property happens to be one of the offenses her District Attorney’s office is now declining to prosecute, which is even more reason why she should be fully transparent about her own case.
Rollins’ nomination to be U.S. Attorney is being held up by Republicans. The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on her nomination earlier this year, and it’s unclear when it will go to the full Senate.
Rollins’ arrest never became an issue during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.
But it bears striking similarities to Omarova’s case.
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