TWO MEN CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO BRIBE AGENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN CONNECTION WITH PROGRAM RECEIVING FEDERAL FUNDS
ZUHAIR AMEER HAMED, age 40, and JIHAD HATEM HAMAD, age 27, both residents of Gretna, Louisiana, were charged today with Conspiracy to Bribe an Agent of Local Government in Connection with a Program Receiving Federal Funds in a one-count Bill of Information, announced U. S. Attorney Dana J. Boente. Mr. Boente commended the local public official identified in court documents as Public Official A for reporting to law enforcement the facts which led to the opening of the investigation, and for cooperating in the investigation.
According to court documents, JIHAD HAMAD was the owner and operator of a convenience store located in Harahan, Louisiana, who was seeking a permit allowing the sale of wine and hard liquor at his store. ZUHAIR HAMED assisted in the efforts of JIHAD HAMAD to obtain the liquor permit. Public Official A, the Chief of Police of the City of Harahan, repeatedly stated that he would oppose the issuance of such permit because the convenience store was located within 300 feet of a church.
According to court documents, in March 2012, JIHAD HAMAD offered to have a contribution made to the public official’s campaign committee in exchange for his statement of no objection to the application for the liquor permit. ZUHAIR HAMED then met several times with the public official, discussed the liquor permit, and offered to make payments in cash, by blank money order, or by business checks to the official’s campaign. In May and June of 2012, JIHAD HAMAD gave ZUHAIR HAMED $3,000 to be used to make payments to the public official. ZUHAIR HAMED then paid the public official a total of $3,000 in two payments, one in cash, and one by means of a check drawn on the account of a business related to ZUHAIR HAMED’s family member, on which check the payee was blank. He also agreed to make additional payments to the public official in the future.
If convicted, ZUHAIR AMEER HAMED and JIHAD AMEER HAMED face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment.
U. S. Attorney Boente reiterated that the Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Executive Assistant U. S. Attorney Eileen Gleason.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims or have knowledge of waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at: (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to: (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org