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Gretna men sentenced for conspiracy to commit bribery

(from the Department of Justice) – ZUHAIR HAMED, age 51, and JIHAD HATEM HAMAD, age 27, both residents of Gretna, Louisiana, were sentenced yesterday by U. S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon on their guilty pleas to Conspiracy to Bribe an Agent of Local Government in Connection with a Program Receiving Federal Funds, announced U. S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr.   ZUHAIR HAMED was sentenced to twenty months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, and a fine of $3,000.  JIHAD HAMAD was sentenced to six months imprisonment followed by six months of home confinement, three years of supervised release, 50 hours of community service, and a $100 special assessment.

According to court documents, HAMAD was the owner and operator of a convenience store located in Harahan, Louisiana.  HAMAD was seeking a permit allowing the sale of wine and hard liquor at his store.  HAMED assisted in 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.

In March 2012, HAMAD told the police chief that his father was a 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 HAMED, in fact, was his father.  However, the two men were not related.

Consequently, 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.

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 to the police chief’s campaign.  In May and June of 2012, HAMAD gave HAMED $3,000 to be used to make payments to the police chief.  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 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.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U. S. Attorney’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by Executive Assistant U. S. Attorney Eileen Gleason.