World Harvest owner sentenced to three years for sending funds to Iraq

UPDATE: Some supporters of Shakir Hamoodi will be gathering today at 2:30pm at Rock Bridge Christian Church to discuss a response to the sentencing. No idea what that response would be – or even if Mr. Hamoodi has given the meeting his blessing – but thought I’d pass along.

Shakir Hamoodi, owner of World Harvest, was sentenced yesterday to three years in federal prison. What he did – funnel money to family and friends in Iraq in violation of federal sanctions – is pretty clear. But Columbia is better because of Mr. Hamoodi and his store. It’s a tragedy. That’s really the only word I’ve been able to come up with. I’m sick to my stomach for him and his family and wish them the best.

Note: I’d feel pretty sleazy asking questions about maintaining my access to excellent cheese and olive oils at a time like this, but I’m wondering what will happen to the store as well. I’ll stop in soon and see what the word is.

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Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

15 thoughts

  1. Scott do you know if World Harvest will continue to operate? After today’s sickening verdict, I would like to support them by shopping there more often (it’s on the opposite side of town for me, but if it’s going to be open, I will make the effort to get there).

    If his name had been Sam Hanson instead of Shakir Hamoodi, I wonder what his sentence would have been. Just this week, a man who rolled his truck and killed someone while on an alcohol fueled joy ride got 120 days. And Hamoodi gets 3 years for trying to keep family and friends from starving? There is something badly wrong here.

  2. I agree Scott. I am heartbroken over the verdict and sentencing. Shakir Hamoodi has always been the nicest, most polite person every time we met. I hope we are able to continue to support his business and family.

  3. I suppose the Hamoodis are reeling right now, but at some point, you’re right, they’ll have to make a decision about the store. That place without him just wouldn’t be the same.

    Amy: I agree. Mr. Hamoodi is one of the nicest, most interesting people I know. Ugh.

  4. We’re pretty disgusted. The cost to society of taking a successful businessman and valuable citizen, and turning him into an expensive ward of the state along with the murderers and rapists, far outweighs whatever harm he might have done in attempting to help his family survive a murderous dictator. His actions, while illegal, harmed no one and cost society nothing. Fine him, give him probation, find some way of balancing his crime that doesn’t do far more harm than the original sin.

    Shakir has been very interested in, and supportive of, our farm and volunteered on his own initiative to host CSA distributions as soon as he heard about our new business model. He was so excited to start having produce come to the store, and now this. He’s a wonderful man, and I always felt better after leaving his store following a friendly conversation and his gentle smile.

    I’m running errands in town today and intend to swing by and find out what I can about future plans. We’d like to be part of any effort to support the store and the family, and in any chance there might be to lobby for a commutation or easing of sentence (doesn’t the governor have powers in this direction?).

  5. Agreed, Eric, there is absolutely nothing good that can come of this.

    As for Governor Nixon possibly intervening, this is a federal charge, so I’m thinking that outside of a letter of recommendation there’s not much he can do. Just sad all the way around.

  6. I sent a request to Claire McCaskill to see if she had any connections who might be able to extend some leniency along with a link to this blog.

  7. It doesn’t matter what one thinks he did…he broke the law and he has to pay. I fail to see the issue here. He should have thought about the consequences before doing what he did.

  8. It’s a valid point that he broke the law, Alan. He was aware of that and entered a guilty plea as such. At issue is the sentence, which seems overly harsh. 3 years in prison for sending money to his family? As Eric noted, this cost society nothing, and I’ll add that it in no way put any single person in this country in harm’s way, which is more than can be said for even a person who gets a speeding ticket. In this case, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

  9. Alan,

    That’s quite a stone to cast.

    The deeper question here is whether society is better off with this result. He’s not the only one paying; all of us will now pay for his expensive imprisonment, instead of him paying us through the generation of tax revenue from his business. Will his family need to use social services in the absence of their primary income-provider? Will his employees lose their jobs if the store has to close?

    Do you think the costs to society of imprisoning this man, as opposed to other forms of punishment (probation, fines, community service), are justified by the crime committed? The latter two could be construed as net benefits to society, the former is at least cheaper than prison.

    The discussion is not whether he should be punished for breaking the law; it is HOW. I, and apparently many others, feel this is not a cost-effective or moral approach to the situation.

  10. It is a completely warranted punishment. He game money to people in an enemy country, so therefore he gave money to the enemy. I don’t care how cool a store he has or how cool you think he is, he conspired with the enemy. Frankly, he should be deported at the very least for his actions.

    Again, I care less if his store folds or not. He should have thought before aiding an enemy to the United States. There will be other places you can find overpriced food…you’ll deal.

  11. Alan…. I agree that the law was violated and he needed to be held accountable. You are incorrect however about one thing…IRAQ is NOT an enemy to the US. We are not at war with Iraq. We are battling insurgents IN Iraq. Big. Difference. Iraqi soldiers are fighting along side US Soldiers.

  12. Hamoodi’s case is not the only case in our city, a man by the name of Mubarak Hamad already went to jail this past Friday for Iraq sanction violation. We should support ideas for all people, not support one person and leave the other.

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