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More Than $4 Million in Seized Assets Distributed to Federal, State and Local Agencies

OCT 23 (SCRANTON, Pa.) - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, held a meeting in Scranton, on October 9, 2013, to announce that a total of $4,093,753.13 was seized and forfeited as a result of a joint investigation by local and state law enforcement authorities and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

The investigation that led to the forfeited funds related to the out-of-state sale of untaxed smokeless tobacco by Alhamrah Corporation located at 1028 Reeves Street in Dunmore.  As a result of the investigation, Aqsa Aslam, a principal in the corporation, was charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in Scranton and pleaded guilty to subscribing to a materially false tax return. 

Senior U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo sentenced Aslam to one year of probation on May 1, 2013.  As part of a plea agreement with the government, Aslam agreed to forfeit cash and bank accounts of Alhamrah totaling $4,093,753.13. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Houser and Amy Phillips.

State and local law enforcement agencies can receive federally forfeited funds for law enforcement use through a practice known as “equitable sharing.” 

This month, the state and local agencies listed below received the funds indicated as a result of their participation in the Alhamrah investigation:

Shenandoah Sheriff’s Office (Virginia)    $847,390.20
Scranton Police Department  $257,901.36
Wilkes-Barre Police Department $257,901.36
Hazleton Police Department  $257,901.36
Pocono Mountain Police Department   $257,901.36
Stroud Area Regional Police Department     $257,901.36
District Attorney Lackawanna County $82,631.45
Dunmore Police Department     $36,843.05
Pennsylvania State Police  $36,843.05
  $2,293,214.55

After distribution of $2,293,214.55 to state and local law enforcement entities, the $1,800,538.58 remaining from the total forfeited amount of $4,093,753.13 was forfeited to the United States government.

IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner said, "Individuals who commit fraud of this magnitude and with this degree of dishonesty and deceit, deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The success we felt today is a result of the determination and commitment of IRS Criminal Investigation, the United States Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners.  We, as a group, remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and holding those accountable who defraud the United States Government."

United States Attorney Peter Smith commended all of the law enforcement departments and agencies for their cooperation and for the successful completion of the investigation.

In attendance at the October 9 meeting were: DEA (Philadelphia) SAC Dave Dongilli; DEA (Philadelphia) ASAC Jon Wilson, DEA (Scranton RA) Eric Stangeby; ATF RAC (Winchester, VA) Mike Schneider, SA Todd Freiwald; Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney Shane Scanlon; Shenandoah (Virginia) County Sheriff, Tim Carter and Lt. Paul Ryman; Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano; Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Jerry Dessoye and Captain Joseph Coffey; Stroud Regional Police Chief William Parrish: Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis; Dunmore Police Chief Sal Marchese, and Pennsylvania State Police (Troop R Dunmore) Capt. Mark Lavelle.


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