The trial of William Aossey Jr., 73, began Tuesday in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa with opening statements and the first witness taking the stand. After the jury was selected, prosecution and defense attorneys offered competing theories about who was in charge at Midamar Corporation during the 2007-10 period when the alleged criminal conduct occurred at the Cedar Rapids-based exporter of Halal foods. Aossey is charged with 19 counts, including conspiracy to make false statements and misbranding, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and lying on federal export certificates. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Murphy told the jury the defendant “called the shots” at the time when a scheme played out to circumvent the slaughtering requirements of Malaysia and Indonesia for Halal beef exports by falsifying documents and labels. Defense attorney Haytham Faraj countered by telling the jury that a former Midamar operations manager, who previously pleaded guilty to misdemeanor conspiracy, was responsible for the scheme. Phillip Payne, 50, of Ryan, IA, was the one who instructed employees, according to Faraj. USDA’s Tamara Dey, a federal inspector, was the first to take the witness stand with testimony on the workings of export certificates and how establishment numbers are used. The trial is expected to continue for the rest of the week. A second group of defendants, including two of Aossey’s sons, Midamar, and Islamic Services of America (ISA), are scheduled to go to trial later this summer.
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