New York, 2 Sha’ban 1436/20 May 2015 (MINA) – The founder of an Iowa-based global supplier of Halal meat and poultry products is scheduled for a federal criminal trial starting July 7 which is expected to take about a week.
Another trial is scheduled for Sept. 28 for his two sons and the company he founded, the entity that certifies its products as Halal. The second trial is expected to take two weeks.
Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will preside over both trials in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids. She was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by George W. Bush, Halal Focus quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
USDistrictCourtCedarRapidsThe July and September federal fraud and conspiracy trials both involve the export of Halal meat to Southeast Asia. Halal foods are those permitted or lawful under Islamic dietary guidelines. Under these guidelines, animals must be cared for and slaughtered in such a way as to limit pain, among other requirements.
First to be indicted last October in the current Halal cases was William B. Aossey, Jr., 73, of Cedar Rapids.
The founder of the Midamar Corporation was charged with one count of conspiracy to make false statements, sell misbranded meat, and commit mail and wire fraud; seven counts of making or causing false statements to be made on export applications; seven counts of wire fraud; three counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment also contains two forfeiture allegations for proceeds and property involved in some of the offenses charged.
The conspiracy charge, if proven, is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. Conviction on each count of making a false statement on an export application is punishable by up to three years, each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years, and each count of money laundering, including the money laundering conspiracy charge, is punishable by up to 20 years.
A fine of up to $250,000 may also be imposed for each count, along with a term of supervised release.
Then, this past December, charges were brought against the Midamar Corporation and Islamic Services of America (ISA), both based in Cedar Rapids, and corporate officers of the businesses, Jalel Aossey, 40, and William “Yahya” Aossey, 44, also of Cedar Rapids.
They were named in a 92-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa at Cedar Rapids. The indictment charges each defendant business and person with one count of conspiracy to make and use materially false statements and documents, sell misbranded meat, and commit wire fraud.
The indictment also charges each defendant with three counts of making false statements on export applications, 43 counts of wire fraud, 44 counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiring to commit money laundering. The indictment also contains two forfeiture allegations, seeking proceeds and property involved in certain alleged offenses.
The additional defendants, if convicted, are facing the same potential sentences as the elder Aossey. The conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Each count of making a false statement on an export application is punishable by up to three years. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years of imprisonment, as is each count of money laundering, including the money laundering conspiracy count.
A fine of up to $250,000 may also be imposed on each count, along with a term of supervised release following any imprisonment. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In a plea agreement with the government, Midamar’s former operations manager, Philip Payne, 50, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to make and deliver false certificates and writings in exchange for the prosecution deferring two additional federal felony counts of defrauding the United States. Payne is expected to testify against his former employers.
Both Midamar and ISA continue to do business and are sharing opinions about the federal criminal cases with their customers. After the company itself was indicted, Midamar told customers it “does not accept these allegations and is now seeking to understand what the government is basing these allegations on.”
“In 2010, there was a USDA administrative infraction regarding facility numbers that were incorrect,” Midamar wrote in a letter to customers. “This was never a Halal issue. The product exported was Halal. It was an exporting issue involving facility numbers.”
The letter states that Midamar has been fully compliant with USDA since 2010: “The administrative labeling infraction is being misconstrued and sensationalized by the the media as a deliberate attempt by the company to commit Halal fraud.”
Midamar’s letter to customers also asserts that the federal government does not fully understand “the complexities and global sensitivities of the Halal market.”
Judge Reade has signed a criminal trial scheduling order for both the coming trials. A status hearing will be held June 11 prior to the first trial. The final pre-trial status hearing for the second trial is scheduled for Aug. 27.
A final pre-trial conference is scheduled for both trials a half-hour before jury selection begins.
In 2010, Reade presided over the trial of Sholom Rubashkin, who was then-CEO of Agriprocessors, a now-bankrupt kosher slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Postville, IA. He was convicted of 86 counts of bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.
Reade’s 27-year sentence of Rubashkin was controversial, but it was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis. (T/P010/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)