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Pompano Store Owner Accused of Running Check Scheme to
Pay Illegal Workers
November 8, 2006

A federal magistrate in Fort Lauderdale set bond at $1 million Tuesday for a Broward convenience store owner accused of running an illegal check
cashing business.

Samir Hantash, 54, who was the victim of a bloody robbery in 2000, cashed checks at Sample Food and Beverage Market in Pompano Beach that
went to pay the wages of illegal immigrants, said prosecutor Michael Walleisa.

He asked U.S. Magistrate Barry Selzer to deny bond, saying Hantash could flee to Jordan where he was born and still owns a home.

To prevent that, Selzer ordered electronic monitoring and said Hantash would not be released until his wife and four children surrender their
passports. Federal authorities took Hantash's U.S. and Jordanian passports after his arrest Oct. 31.

Attorney Larry Davis, who represents Hantash, said he was pleased with the ruling.

Hantash's brother-in-law Amir Hasan, 39, who is also charged, was released on $50,000 bail. The men are scheduled to enter pleas Nov. 15.

Prosecutors accuse Hantash and Hasan of using a shell company called Aurora and Sons Inc. to disguise payments to undocumented construction
workers.

The men were nabbed by an undercover agent posing as the owner of a construction company, according to court papers. Hantash agreed to
cash checks made out to Aurora and Sons in exchange for a commission, knowing the money would go to pay illegal immigrants, the papers state.

Hantash is also charged with not filing required documents for hundreds of checks cashed in April 2002. His customers, some of whom have been
criminally charged, used the money to pay undocumented construction workers off the books, prosecutors said.

Under U.S. law, businesses must report transactions involving more than $10,000 in currency to the Treasury Department. The rule, intended to
prevent money laundering, applies to single transactions or multiple transactions involving the same customer.

According to one charge of the government's 115-count indictment, Hantash cashed checks on April 4, 2002 worth more than $95,000 for a single
customer, without filing the necessary report. His business redeemed checks worth more than $28 million between January 2002 and September
2002, an investigator stated in court filings.

It is not clear how much Hantash made from the transactions. The government has frozen bank accounts in his name worth roughly $700,000,
Walleisa said.

In July 2000, Hantash was shot five times during a deadly stick-up at his Pompano store and barely survived. The bullets damaged several organs
and left him blind in one eye.

The gunman, Jamie Dean Petron, shot and killed a relative of Hantash's wife who worked in the store, before fleeing the scene and taking five
people hostage in an Orlando home. After a 51-hour standoff with police, Petron shot and killed himself.

Hantash sold the store where the crime occurred in 2005 and purchased another check-cashing business on Northeast 62nd Street in Oakland
Park.

If the case goes to trial, Hantash faces about five years in prison.

Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel