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Six Arkansans charged with smuggling money.

Four Bryant residents and two Little Rock residents were Charged last week in a 55-count federal indictment related to the movement of some $300,000 to the Middle East.

Two of the defendants, Eyad Hassan, 36, and Linda Hassan, 30, of Bryant, were also charged with fraud for misrepresenting their assets and income when applying for and receiving ARKids First public health insurance for their children.

The case grew out of an ongoing investigation by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins.

The other defendants are Fuad Hasan, 32, and Hanan Hasan, 26, both of Bryant, and Arnjad Mutie Kattom, 28, and Sahar Alabed Kattom, both of Little Rock.

Eyad and Linda Hassan owned and operated two convenience stores in Little Rock, University One Stop and Markham Food Mart. The indictment says they and the other defendants used the stores to obtain cash with which they purchased 52 official bank checks in amounts designed to avoid bank-reporting laws.

Federal bank laws require banks to record and obtain customer identification when checks in amounts of more than $3,000 are purchased. The checks the defendants purchased between July 2002 and December 2005 ranged in value from $2,500 to $2,942.50

Often multiple checks would be purchased on the same day, according to the indictment.

"These checks that were first convetted from cash were ultimately mailed overseas to individuals in Jordan and Palestinian controlled territories, allowing the Defendants to avoid the legal requirements for moving money in excess of $10,000 overseas, otherwise known as bulk cash smuggling," the indictment said.

Fuad and Hanan Hasan were also charged with trying to smuggle cash out of the U.S.

According to the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Little Rock, they flew from Little Rock National to Chicago O'Hare Airport for a connecting flight to Jordan. While being processed through customs for the flight to Jordan, they declared $8,000 in cash but were found to have an additional $9,000 in their possession.

During the same years that they were allegedly moving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Middle East, the Hassans signed their children up for the joint federal and state health insurance program called ARKids First by understating their assets and income.

Last November, federal agents seized $101,054 in cash from the Hassan's home in Bryant, according to the indictment. Federal prosecutors are seeking to keep that money under forfeiture laws, as well as the University One Stop at 7300 S. University, Ave. in Little Rock and $2,460 seized from the Hasans.
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Title Annotation:LEGAL
Author:Moritz, Gwen
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 13, 2006
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