Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crime: Three Jordanian nationals charged in scheme to steal U.S. public funds.

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON—A combined federal, state, and local investigation has led to the arrest of three Jordanian nationals on federal fraud charges, one of whom is also charged in state district court with murder.

The announcement is being made jointly by United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson along with FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Carlos J. Barron, Special Agent in Charge Robert G. Feldt of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), Houston Police Department (HPD) Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr., Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon, and Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage.

Ali Mahmood-Awad Irsan, 57, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jordan and resident of Conroe, was arrested yesterday along with his wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, 37, also a Jordanian national, and daughter, Nadia Irsan, 30, a U.S. citizen. Ali Irsan and his family members are charged federally with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., theft of public money, and benefits fraud. The investigation also led to charges against Ali Irsan for murder in state district court.

“The filing of both federal and state charges in this matter demonstrates the outstanding coordination between our offices and with all of the exceptional federal, state, and local law enforcement partners working the investigation,” said Magidson. “This matter is a true testament of everyone’s dedication to working together and ensuring those suspected of crimes are properly charged.”

“We never forgot about this case. We will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners to make sure justice prevails,” said Anderson. “This investigation into the murder of Gelareh Bagherzadeh is far from over.”

“It is precisely these types of violent crimes the FBI will continue to address in conjunction with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners,” said Barron. “We will ensure all law enforcement resources and capabilities are brought to bear to safeguard our community.”

The federal criminal complaint was unsealed this morning in federal court in Houston. The indictment charging Ali Irsan with murder was filed in state district court yesterday.

The murder charge alleges Ali Irsan intentionally or knowingly caused the death of Gelareh Bagherzadeh on January 15, 2012, by shooting her with a firearm.

Ali Irsan is not expected to personally appear in federal court today. The other two are set for an initial appearance at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson.

The charges in the federal criminal complaint allege Ali Irsan and his wife falsified documents in order to receive Social Security disability benefits with the assistance of Nadia Irsan. Ali Irsan and his family allegedly secreted assets, such as real estate, vehicles, and currency, which would make him and his wife ineligible to receive benefits. Nadia Irsan, who lives with her father and is unemployed, allegedly maintained a bank account with more than $150,000 in cash for her father, which was separate from the benefits received from the SSA. The family also purchased several pieces of real estate and vehicles with cash.

“This investigation is a fine example of collaborative efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement,” said Feldt. “SSA-OIG will vigorously investigate and bring to justice those individuals who intentionally defraud SSA programs.”

If convicted of any of the federal fraud charges, the three family members face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. If convicted of murder in state district court, Ali Irsan also faces up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The joint investigation was a coordinated effort conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Harris County District Attorney’s Office, FBI, HPD, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, SSA-OIG, HSI, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister is handling the federal prosecution, while Assistant District Attorneys Tammy Thomas and Connie Spence are prosecuting Ali Irsan on the murder charge.

A criminal complaint or indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.