By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 24, 2016: John Ashe, the Antigua-born former president of the United Nations General Assembly who was last year indicted in a bribery scandal and was under house arrest, is dead.
Ashe was Antigua & Barbuda’s ambassador to the UN at one point and served as president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 and 2014.
His lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, said Ashe died from a heart attack while lifting a barbell on a bench at his at home in Dobbs Ferry, N.YWednesday evening. He was 61 and was awaiting trial.
The medical examiner, according to CNN reports, clarified Ashe died from traumatic asphyxia and suffered laryngeal fractures while lifting but a completed autopsy report will not be available for approximately 16 weeks when standard tests are complete.
A federal grand jury indicted Ashe, a former diplomat for the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, in October in a bribery scandal involving Chinese businessmen and bribes totaling more than $1 million.
At the time, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, alleged Ashe “sold himself and the global institution he led” by pocketing more than $1 million in bribes to finance a luxury spending spree.
Ashe used the money to buy Rolex watches, custom suits, a BMW, a family vacation and even a private basketball court, Bharara said.
Ashe was accused of tax fraud in an alleged conspiracy involving five others, including a billionaire Chinese businessman and a former deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic, according to a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors accused him of under-reporting his income by more than $1.2 million.
The Chinese businessman, Ng Lap Seng, paid more than $500,000 in bribes to Ashe, according to the complaint.
Ashe also allegedly pocketed more than $800,000 in bribes from various Chinese businessmen to support business deals in Antigua, according to prosecutors and allegedly shared the bribe money with the former prime minister of Antigua, Baldwin Spencer, the federal complaint said.
“Despite the many as yet unproven accusations made against him, Mr. Ashe was for many years a hard-working and popular member of the diplomatic corps in New York and at the United Nations,” current U.N. General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said in a statement Thursday. “I know that his death will come as sad news to the many professional friends and colleagues he made during his time here.”