Iraqi refugee food stamp fraudster fugitive caught in Belize
Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 4, 2012
Bet you can’t say that title five times (fast!)!
We first told you about Khaffak Ansari here in May. The former Iraqi refugee who came to the US as a teen escaping, what else! Saddam Hussein, was found guilty of trafficking in food stamps to the tune of $2.5 – $3 million dollars (estimates vary, but that is your money!). His defense in court was that stress made him do it.
And, I guess you could say he, like the Arizona Iraqi bomber, didn’t appreciate the good life we gave him.
Well, now we know that he skipped the country before he could get his light 41-month prison sentence started.
We got him back though—after he was in deep trouble in Belize for allegedly holding a woman captive against her will. LOL! I bet he figured he would be better off extradited to the US to serve time for his scamming the taxpayer then to face whatever Belize would do to him. Yippee! We get him back.
Anyway, here is the latest story from the Twincities Pioneer Press ( I’m posting more than I usually do from an article like this one because I’ve seen these stories very quickly be “no longer available”):
A convicted food stamp fraudster who skipped a prison date and fled to Belize pleaded guilty to the new charge arising from his getaway.
In accepting Khaffak Ansari’s guilty plea Thursday, Nov. 29, Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson of St. Paul had federal marshals keep him in custody to make sure he gets to prison this time.
Ansari, 46, of Arden Hills, must now serve a year and a day in addition to the 41-month federal term he got in a $2.5 million food stamp fraud scheme he ran while he owned Stryker Market on St. Paul’s West Side.
When Magnuson sentenced Ansari in the fraud case in May, he told him he could remain free and surrender to prison officials June 11. The arrangement is not unusual in cases involving nonviolent federal offenders.
Ansari never showed. His whereabouts were a mystery until Sept. 6, when he got into trouble with police in San Pedro, Belize; a woman who worked at a club he was managing accused him of holding her against her will.
Instead of facing charges in the Central American country, Ansari told police there he was wanted in the U.S.
He was returned to Minnesota, where he faced a new charge of “failure to appear.”
So, how did he get out of the country in the first place? He lied! He didn’t turn his passport in as the judge instructed:
It appears Ansari could leave the U.S. because he ignored a judge’s May 2011 order to turn over his passport, and officials with U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services never followed up.
U.S. Magistrate Jeanne Graham had ordered Ansari to surrender his passport as a condition of pre-trial release in the fraud case. He had the passport when arrested in Belize.
Jeanne Cooney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said Ansari had told Graham that he couldn’t find his passport.
“The court ordered him to keep looking and that as soon as he found it, to surrender it,” Cooney said. “At some point, he came across it or had it all along — I don’t know the particulars — but at some point he got it and chose not to surrender it to the courts. Instead, he took off.”
Ansari’s lawyers blamed the loss of the passport on federal agents!
In a May 5, 2011, court filing, Ansari’s attorney, Daniel Schermer, said the passport was last seen when federal agents searched Ansari’s home the previous September.
“The defendant says that he has not seen his passport since the search and believes it was seized,” Schermer wrote.
In the same document, the lawyer wrote, “The government’s attempt to incarcerate a
non-dangerous, non-fugitive solely on the hypothesis that he may flee to an unidentified country at some point in the unknown future is improper…”
By the way, this demonstrates one of the huge cultural differences we have with Middle Easterners and African Muslims—they are excellent liars, some of the best in the world, and his attorney apparently fell for it.
Speaking of lies, I suspect that his defense (stress made him do it) was (duh!) a lie as well. In the earlier court proceeding his father argued that his son had been tortured by Saddam Hussein (really? a young boy at the time) and that he was distraught over his wife’s death.
Ansari is an Iraqi immigrant who came to the U.S. when he was 14. In a letter to Magnuson prior to his son’s sentencing in the fraud case, Dr. Tawfiq Ansari said his son had been tortured under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The elder Ansari told the judge that his son’s mental stability worsened when his ex-wife died in the August 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis. [Note: she was already his EX-wife at the time of her death and it was he who filed for the divorce!--ed]
There is more and it is good work by reporter David Hanners, read it all!
You silly Americans, can’t you see the logic here—Saddam Hussein tortures you, America gives you a good life, but you divorce your wife and the stress of it all sends you into a frenzy to defraud the US government (the taxpayers).
For new readers: Following immigrant food stamp fraud is one of my extra-curricular hobbies here at RRW. If someone out there wants to do an investigation of how immigrants purchase convenience stores and other stores that trade in food stamps and get rich by getting into the food stamp trafficking business, type ‘food stamp fraud’ into our search function (again, a lot of your research is done for you!). Don’t hold your breath waiting for a real investigative journalist to jump on this scam—it has a political correctness factor of zero!
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