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Roanoke man, brother plead guilty in check-cashing scam
Muawia Khalil Abdeljalil, 43, lives in Roanoke, and his older brother lives in Tampa, Fla.
Friday, March 8, 2013
A Roanoke man who owns a convenience store in the city and another store in Franklin County admitted his involvement this week in a tax scam that authorities said involved more than $17.5 million.
Muawia Khalil Abdeljalil, 43, also known as "Mike Jalil," pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke to one count of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of structuring financial transactions to avoid taxes, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Abdeljalil owns the Mera Mart on Cove Road in Roanoke and the One Stop Shop 2 on Doe Run Road near Rocky Mount.
His brother, Khaldoun Khalil Khawaja, 48, of Tampa, Fla., pleaded guilty in the same case Thursday to money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
A third man charged, Osama Mahmud Mustafa, 49, also of Tampa, has not yet been brought to trial, the release said.
According to an indictment unsealed last year in U.S. District Court, "numerous individuals" in Florida filed false tax returns and received either refunds or checks for loans in anticipation of refunds.
Khawaja and Mustafa purchased the checks, often paying a small percentage of their face value, and then got Abdeljalil to have them cashed, federal authorities allege.
According to the indictment, they were responsible for some 3,800 checks submitted at banks in Virginia and Florida between July 2009 and April 2012.
Some of the bogus tax returns that were used bore the personal information of people who are dead or were in jail, court documents showed.
Although a sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled, Abdeljalil faces up to 40 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.
According to his plea agreement, Abdeljalil will be responsible with his codefendants for forfeiting $4.2 million. He also will be allowed to reclaim his Rocky Mount convenience store, which has been seized by the government, in exchange for a $20,000 payment. Officials said Friday that Abdeljalil's Roanoke store had not been seized.
Originally from Pakistan, Abdeljalil came to the United States in 2001 on a temporary visa, and the indictment said he has attempted to change his immigration status by marrying two women who are U.S. citizens. He's also facing an additional count of marriage fraud from another indictment
Khawaja faces up to 25 years in prison, plus the possibility of a fine of up to $750,000.
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