Former Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Immigration Violations
Defendant Lied On Immigration Documents About Working for the Government of Iraq
Baltimore, Maryland - Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish, age 48, formerly of Maryland, pleaded guilty today to making a false statement in connection with an immigration matter, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and David S. Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
According to his plea agreement, Darwish is a Canadian citizen born in Iraq. From 2000 to March 2003, Darwish worked as an accountant and driver at the Iraqi Interests Section (ISEC) within the Algerian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The ISEC was formed in 1991 after the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Iraq for invading Kuwait. In December 2003, Darwish resumed his employment at the newly reopened Iraqi Embassy in Washington, D.C., and continued to work there until March or April 2004. Darwish was never identified, registered, or recognized by the Department of State or the Attorney General of the United States as a diplomatic or consular officer of the Government of Iraq, or an officially or publicly acknowledged and sponsored official, representative, or employee of said government.
Darwish’s employment at the ISEC was arranged for him by Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy, an Iraqi national and member of the Ba’ath Party. Al-Dellemy owned a restaurant called the Gourmet Shish Kebab in Laurel, Maryland and in January 2000, he obtained certification from the Department of Labor to hire Darwish to work as a cook at the restaurant. In June 2001, Al-Dellemy petitioned the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to obtain a visa allowing Darwish to work at the restaurant. The visa was subsequently approved in September 2001. In November 2001, Darwish filed an application with INS to obtain lawful permanent resident status based on his employment at Gourmet Shish Kebab. From 2001 until his application was ultimately denied on August 30, 2006, Darwish applied for, and was granted, continuing authorization to maintain his employment at Gourmet Shish Kebab. At no time during this process did Darwish or Al-Dellemy reveal to immigration authorities that Darwish was working at the ISEC/Embassy. In supporting documents filed with immigration authorities both Darwish and Al-Dellemy falsely alleged that Darwish’s employment as a cook at Al-Dellemy’s restaurant was the basis for Darwish’s entry into, and continued presence in, the United States.
During his tenure at the ISEC and Embassy, Darwish took direction from government officials within the establishments and performed whatever tasks were requested of him. On January 6 and 7, 2004, Al-Dellemy asked Darwish to locate any files maintained by the ISEC regarding an individual previously working for the Government of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Darwish reported back to Al-Dellemy that the files relating to this individual and others associated with the ISEC and the Ba’ath Party regime had been ordered destroyed by the former Chief of Station for the ISEC.
Following the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces in March 2003, the United States military came into possession of various confidential documents generated by the IIS. Among these documents were three items pertaining to Darwish: a cash receipt documenting a $200 payment to Darwish on March 27, 2000, through the Washington Station, as compensation for his “assistance;” a document dated June 22, 2002, identifying Darwish as an employee at the ISEC; and a report dated August 6, 2002, documenting that Darwish had been told by a named individual that Iraqi volunteers, including that individual, were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia and getting paid $2000 per month.
On May 20, 2003, during an interview with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Darwish gave false information regarding the start and length of his employment at the ISEC and his salary. He also failed to disclose that Al-Dellemy secured his employment at the ISEC. On October 13, 2005, Darwish signed a sworn affidavit in Maryland, in connection with his application for lawful permanent resident status in the United States, in which he falsely represented that he entered the United States in June 2001 for the purpose of being employed at Al-Dellemy’s restaurant, when, in fact, he had been in the United States since at least 2000; and failed to reveal his employment and activities at the ISEC and the subsequently reopened Iraqi Embassy.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for October 23, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. Darwish faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The government and the defendant have agreed that 15 months in prison is the appropriate disposition of this case.
Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy, age 68, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government, specifically, as an agent of Iraq, and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to act as an agent for a foreign government. His sentencing is scheduled for September 11, 2009, at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Christine Manuelian, who is prosecuting the case, as well as Senior Trial Attorneys Robert E. Wallace and Clifford I. Rones, from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, who provided assistance in the case, and Assistant United States Attorney Harvey E. Eisenberg, Chief of National Security, who supervised this case.