HILLSBOROUGH, Calif. (KGO) -- The former star witness in the Hillsborough heiress homicide case is fighting back against an allegation he was involved in the 2016 murder of Keith Green.
Mustapha Traore plans to plead guilty on Monday to passport fraud. He admits his real name is not Olivier Adella. But he is fighting back against a suggestion by federal prosecutors that he was present during the killing of Keith Green in 2016. He told ABC7 News that the allegation was based on a mistranslation of a phone call he made from jail.
"Even the judge, the honorable judge the District Judge Vince Chhabria told the US Attorney that what he said makes no sense. He don't believe the translation, the so-called translator, he don't believe none of that," Traore told ABC7 News in a phone call from Santa Rita Jail Thursday.
Traore added that the translator also said that he helped Li and Bayat bury Green's body. Green's body was left in a field in Sonoma County and was never buried. Neither police nor prosecutors ever contended that Li or Bayat disposed of Green's body.
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A jury in November found Tiffany Li not guilty of killing Green, the father of her two children. The jury deadlocked on the guilt of her boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat. He was freed in December after prosecutors declined to refile charges against him.
The US Attorney's Office told ABC7 News that it does not comment on ongoing cases.
Traore last appeared in court on Tuesday. As part of a plea bargain, he was prepared to enter a plea of guilty on a passport fraud charge. Prosecutors say he took the name of a French citizen, Olivier Adella, to obtain a fraudulent US Passport. The judge postponed the hearing until Monday out of concern that
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Traore didn't understand and accept that his guilty plea meant that he risked deportation.
At one point, Traore asked Chhabria, "Your honor, deported to where?"
Traore explained that he wasn't sure where and when he was born. He said the year of his birth was between 1981 and 1985. Chhabria responded that he understood because his father is from India and gives his birth year as a range as well. Traore and his attorney explained that they didn't know his legal surname and that Traore was a name he took from his stepfather.
Chhabria will have a wide discretion in his sentencing of Traore. He faces anywhere from probation to up to ten years in prison.
Traore told ABC7 I-Team Reporter Dan Noyes in 2017 that he reluctantly agreed to dispose of Green's body after feeling threatened by Bayat. Li's defense team maintained that Traore killed Green in a botched kidnapping.
Traore had been the prosecution's star witness. He said he turned down an offer of $50,000 from Li and Bayat to kill Green. San Mateo County prosecutors threw Traore off the case just before the trial began after it was revealed that he contacted a defense witness.
Li and Bayat's defense attorneys called Traore a grifter and were prepared to introduce a number of impeachment witnesses if he was called to the stand.
ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: Former star witness in Hillsborough heiress homicide case fights back against allegation of murder involvement