The Midamar executives are anxious to get their emails back because they say the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege for the July and September trials they are facing on fraud and conspiracy charges involving their Halal food products.
Midamar did sponsor a clothing drive for war-torn Lebanon and Syria, and the guns and ammunition were reportedly found in that humanitarian shipment on the docks of Norfolk, VA, after an Iowa gun dealer tipped off federal agents.
But what was taken at Midamar gave the government access to attorney-client privileged documents that it should not get to keep, say defense attorneys.
Midamar founder William Aossey, scheduled for trial in July, and his sons Jalel and Yahya Aossey, Miramar Corp. and Islamic Services of America, scheduled for trial in September, were charged in late 2014 with mislabeling Halal beef products and falsifying export documents.
Chicago defense attorney Haytham Faraj says he has represented Midamar since 2011 and that neither company nor the Aosseys have any connection with the accused gun-smugglers.
Tuesday’s hearing will be held by U.S. Magistrate Jon Scoles, the same judge who last week denied bail to the alleged gun-runners after hearing three hours of testimony by government witnesses.
© Food Safety News
ARTICLE THREE – May 19th, 2015
Midamar clarifies purpose behind its export services
Statement: “The only intention of the clothing drive was to help desperate refugees with needed supplies”
CEDAR RAPIDS — Midamar in a statement Monday clarified it only provided export services to the family accused of smuggling guns to Lebanon and had no involvement or knowledge of the weapons.
Midamar was one of the locations searched last week after firearms and accessories were found concealed in shipping containers bound to Lebanon and had a connection to the company.
The company said it learned that Herz Enterprises, using Midamar Shipping Services, was sending a container holding Bobcat machinery to Lebanon. When Midamar found that the machinery didn’t fill the container, Midamar organized a clothing drive for Syrian refugees to be sent in the same container to save shipping charges.
“The only intention of the clothing drive was to help desperate refugees with needed supplies,” according to the statement.
Midamar, a Halal food business, was informed last week that weapons were found inside the Bobcat shipped by Herz, according to the statement. Weapons were not found in the clothing donated to Syria.
According to the affidavit for the criminal complaint, one of the containers intercepted in Norfolk, Va., on March 26 had 53 firearms, firearm parts and accessories and more than 6,800 rounds of ammunition hidden within three Bobcats. The container also had a piano, boxes filled with clothing, shoes, honey and household supplies.
On May 8, law enforcement searched another container of Herz Enterprises which had 99 firearms, more than 9,500 rounds of ammunition and firearm parts and accessories. Many of the firearms were concealed with the two Bobcats, but also there was ammunition and firearms found concealed in suitcases and boxes containing clothing within this shipping container.
A Homeland Security agent testified last Friday during a detention hearing for the defendants that they couldn’t find an entity under the name of “Herz Enterprises” in Iowa or Illinois.
“No charges have been filed against Midamar, and none are anticipated,” Midamar officials said in the statement. “There is no evidence that the company’s owners and employees had any knowledge or involvement in the alleged weapons smuggling.”
Authorities confirmed no Midamar employees had been arrested last week when searches were conducted at Midamar and Pizza Daddy, owned by a brother of one of the defendants. According to the complaint, some of the guns were concealed in white plastic bags “smiliar, if not the same as” those used by the restaurant.
Ali Herz, 50; his son, Adam Herz, 22; his brother Bassem Herz, 30; and Bassem’s wife Sarah Zeaiter, 24, are charged with conspiracy and delivering a package to a carrier without notice that it contained firearms and ammunition.
According to a criminal complaint, the four legally obtained guns and ammunition from dealers in Eastern Iowa, purchasing 113 firearms in 17 months. But then they conspired to conceal them in the containers.
The four family members remain in jail pending trial. If convicted, they each face five years in prison.
CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal magistrate Tuesday directed prosecutors and a halal food company’s attorneys to work together to determine which company emails are confidential and which prosecutors are allowed to see as part of an ongoing criminal case.
Midamar asked the court for an order that would stop the government from looking at emails and texts between the company and its attorneys regarding October criminal charges against William Aossey, his sons and their companies — Midamar and Islamic Services — alleging mislabeling of halal beef products and falsifying documents.