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Corporate entities in Halal beef scheme get fines, probation

Iowa’s Midamar Corp., a worldwide supplier to Muslim markets, and its Halal certifying agency Islamic Services of America, or ISA Inc., cannot be put in jail, but the corporate entities did not escape the hurt Thursday.

USDistrictCourtCedarRapidsChief Judge Linda R. Reade imposed additional fines — $20,000 on Midamar and $60,000 on ISA Inc. The U.S. District Court judge for Northern Iowa previously ordered Midamar and ISA Inc. to share a $600,000 forfeiture.

In addition, both corporate entities were placed on five years of federal probation and ordered to submit to a USDA consent decree, which will require restructuring debt and management. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s will have oversight for five years.

Earlier in the day, Judge Reade sentenced William B. Aossey Jr. to two years in federal prison, fined him $60,000 and ordered him to pay a special assessment of $1,500.  She could have sentenced him to as many as nine years under federal guidelines.

Reade justified the lighter sentence because Aossey is no longer in a management role at Midamar or anywhere else. She said she did not overlook the aggravating factors of lack of respect for the law and Aossey’s false testimony.

The jury convicted Aossey for false statements, selling misbranded meat, mail and wire fraud, and seven counts of wire fraud and seven counts of making false statements. The same jury acquitted him on four money laundering counts.

It was Aossey who led the Midamar/ISA Inc. scheme to carve out the USDA establishment numbers on beef produced at plant not approved for shipments to a Muslim country so that Halal orders totaling about $5 million could be filled.

And it was Aossey who a jury last July convicted on 15 of 19 felony changes brought in connection with the criminal enterprise.

Midamar, ISA Inc. and Aossey’s two sons were originally charged in a 92 count December 2014 indictment involving mail and wire fraud, making false statements on export certificates, money laundering, and money laundering conspiracy.

After Aossey’s trial, however, the remaining defendants and the government reached an agreement that saw prosecutors dismissed all but a handful of charges in exchange for guilty pleas.

In September 2015,  the corporate entities of Midamar and ISA Inc. each pleaded guilty to one count of fraud. Similar deals were made with Aossey’s two sons, who are involved in the business. The adult sons, Jalel Aossey and William “Yahya” Aossey, are scheduled for sentencing on March 11.

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