5 October – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Ac…

5 October – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael S. Clemens, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today that defendants, Thriftway of Pahokee, Inc., Ahmad Kahok, a/k/a Mike Kahok, Jamil Kahok, a/k/a Jimmy Kahok, and Waseem Kahook, have pled guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade currency reporting requirements to the United States, in violation to Title 31, United States Code, Section 5324.

According to the Plea Agreement filed with the Court, Thriftway of Pahokee, Inc. (“Thriftway”), has agreed to forfeit $100,000. Ahmad Kahok, a/k/a Mike Kahok, Jamil Kahok, a/k/a Jimmy Kahok, and Waseem Kahook each face up to five (5) years’ imprisonment and a criminal fine of $250,000. Thriftway of Pahokee, Inc., faces up to five (5) years probation and a criminal fine of $500,000. All defendants pled guilty before United States District Court Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Thriftway is a grocery store, located in Pahokee, Florida, that also operates as a “financial institution” in that it provides money services to the public, including check cashing, selling Traveler’s Express money orders, and conducting Western Union money transfers.

According to the Indictment in the case, Ahmad Kahok, a/k/a Mike Kahok, was the President, a Director, and an authorized signatory on bank accounts of Thriftway. Jamil Kahok, a/k/a Jimmy Kahok, was an officer and an authorized signatory on bank accounts of Thriftway. Waseem Kahook was a Director of Thriftway. The defendants were charged with structuring their financial transactions with a domestic financial institution (Thriftway) by knowingly failing to file a Currency Transaction Report when the transaction involved more than $10,000. These reports are required to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the charges in the case, to avoid triggering the IRS reporting requirement, the defendants purchased and caused others to purchase cashier’s checks, each in amounts below the $10,000 threshold. Through these structured transactions, the defendants effectively broke up large currency transactions into smaller transactions (less than $10,000) that did not require the filing of reports with the IRS. The cashier’s checks were purchased on consecutive days or from various branch offices of First Community Bank of Palm Beach County, a federally insured domestic financial institution. The defendants obtained the cashier’s checks under fictitious names or in the names of others so as not to reflect the true identity of the remitter or intended beneficiary of the cashier’s checks.

According to Court records, the money used to purchase the cashier’s checks came from the defendants’ personal funds and from monies generated from Thriftway’s business. The cashier’s checks and funds were subsequently sent outside the United States. In total, the defendants collectively illegally structured or assisted in structuring transactions involving $112,000.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation and prosecution of this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Eloisa D. Fernandez and William White.

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