ZUHAIR HAMED AND JIHAD HAMAD PLEAD GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT BRIBERY
ZUHAIR HAMED, age 51, and JIHAD HATEM HAMAD, age 27, both residents of Gretna, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today to one count of Conspiracy to Bribe an Agent of Local Government in Connection with a Program Receiving Federal Funds in a one-count Superseding Bill of Information, announced U. S. Attorney Dana J. Boente. Mr. Boente commended the Police Chief of the City of Harahan 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 Harahan Cheap Smokes, a gas station and convenience store located in Harahan, Louisiana. HAMAD was seeking a permit allowing the sale of wine and hard liquor at his store. ZUHAIR HAMED assisted the efforts of JIHAD HAMAD to obtain the liquor permit. The police chief 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, a prohibited distance under Louisiana law and Harahan city ordinance.
According to court documents, in March 2012, JIHAD HAMAD told the police chief that his father was a very wealthy man who would be willing to make a contribution to the police chief’s political campaign in exchange for approval of a permit to sell wine and hard liquor at the convenience store. The police chief stated that he thought he knew HAMAD’s father, who had owned a convenience store on Martin Luther King Boulevard in New Orleans. HAMAD agreed that ZUHAIR HAMED, in fact, was his father. However, the two men were not related.
According to court documents, the police chief considered the offer to provide him with campaign contributions in return for the liquor permit to be an attempt to bribe him. Therefore, the police chief reported the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which initiated an investigation of the matter.
ZUHAIR HAMED then met several times with the police chief, discussed the liquor permit, and offered payments in cash, by blank money order, or by business checks payable to the police chief’s campaign. In May and June of 2012, JIHAD HAMAD gave ZUHAIR HAMED $3,000 to be used to make payments to the police chief. ZUHAIR HAMED then paid the police chief 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 police chief in the future. JIHAD HAMAD joined the last meeting held between the police chief and ZUHAIR HAMED, at which the two defendants discussed the financial losses being suffered because wine and hard liquor could not be sold at Harahan Cheap Smokes.
ZUHAIR HAMED and JIHAD HATEM HAMAD each 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 on their pleas of guilty. Sentencing is set for October 31, 2013 at 2:00 p.m.
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