LOCAL GAS STATION OWNER SENTENCED TO PRISON
October 21, 2011
Lilywala’s South Atlanta Gas Station Was a Base for Illegal Activities
ATLANTA, GA - SOHEL LILYWALA, 34, formerly of Fayetteville, Georgia, was sentenced to federal prison late yesterday by United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester on charges of being an alien in possession of a firearm, making a false claim to U.S. citizenship and aggravated identity theft.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This defendant acquired the identity of another person and used the information to apply for a United States passport to which he was not entitled. This failed effort was a red flag which led federal and local officers to his gas station where they found illegal drugs and firearms. Now he will spend several years in a federal prison on his three felony convictions before being sent back to his own country.”
LILYWALA was sentenced to 6 years, 9 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on June 9, 2011, to one charge of being an alien in possession of a firearm, one charge of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: LILYWALA was arrested on February 11, 2011, at the Citgo gas station he owned and operated with his brother at 3819 Jonesboro Road in Atlanta, A team of federal agents and local police officers found three handguns, several bags of narcotics, including methamphetamine, cocaine base and marijuana, and digital scales behind the security counter and in a vacant check cashing room. Agents also found shotgun shells and other ammunition, a high-capacity magazine in LILYWALA’s vehicle, and $80,000 in cash in his brother’s car. LILYWALA admitted that he knew that it was illegal for him to possess handguns because he is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. LILYWALA further admitted that he paid someone several hundred dollars for a forged Georgia driver’s license with another person’s identifying information because he wanted to be able to apply for a U.S. passport using the name of a “real American.” LILYWALA’s sentence was enhanced because he possessed firearms in connection with drug trafficking. LILYWALA’s brother, FIROZ LILYWALA, was sentenced in September, 2011, on felony charges of aggravated identity theft and passport fraud in a related case.
This case was investigated by the Diplomatic Security Service and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, together with agents and officers of the United States Secret Service, U.S. Department of Labor, DeKalb Police Department and Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Pearce.
For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.