Mr. Hamoodi goes to jail

From a Missourian story I missed last week:

At 2 p.m. on Aug. 28, Hamoodi — Columbia businessman, community leader and former MU nuclear engineer — will begin serving 36 months in federal prison for violating U.S. sanctions against Iraq, the country where he was born. He was sentenced May 16 for arranging to send $270,000 over nine years to his relatives and those of 15 other Iraqi families.

There’s so much wrong with this situation that it’s hard to know where to begin. I find it personally offensive that we’re going to take a good man, a tax-paying businessman and throw him in federal prison for three years. It still doesn’t seem real. Click here for more information or to sign the petition in support of Mr. Hamoodi.

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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.

14 thoughts

  1. I agree Scott Especially in the light of how other cases have been handled. The man who sent over $12 million in funds got probation and Mr. Hamoodi gets 3 years hard time for $270k to keep his family from starving? This is all kinds of wrong.

    I have signed the petition. I am also doing what I can to help simply by making the trip across town to buy something, anything, from World Harvest weekly. Latest find is the Argentinian Parmesan. Smooth, creamy, wonderful. Also try their baked flatbreads as a pizza base, the Ladna (like a tangy cream cheese), swirled on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and topped with some of their amazing olives. At this point, unless and until he is able to secure a Presidential pardon, I think my best support is to help keep the store open.

  2. Except that he wasn’t paying taxes. From his plea agreement: “Shakir Hamoodi did not keep written records of the money he paid to himself for his services to Life. In or about 1998, Shakir Hamoodi and Khalil Jassemm discussed the fact that Shakir Hamoodi would use some of the donations for his household and personal expenses, but they never placed this agreement in writing until after 2004. Neither did Shakir Hamoodi report this income to the Internal Revenue Service, the state of Missouri, or any agency from whom he and his family received assistance, such as food stamps, Section 8 housing, or Medicaid.”

    http://www.insidecolumbia.net/August-2012/The-Complicated-Case-Of-Shakir-Hamoodi/

  3. Whitney, my point is that throwing the man in jail benefits no one. And as a businessman he pays – and generates – all sorts of tax revenue for the city, state and federal governments. He didn’t pay taxes on some of his income and benefits? Fine, he should pay a price. But on August 28 a good man goes from being a net asset to our society to a financial burden. That pisses me off.

  4. So…not only does he violate the law by ignoring sanctions, he also violates the law by not paying his fair share in taxes? It serves him right and good riddance. It’s sad that you bleeding hearts defend such behavior.

  5. Here we go again. The issue at question is HOW to punish, not WHETHER. Jail removes someone from society and places the financial burden of their maintenance on the the government (and thus society). Fines and/or community service punish the person while not removing them from society, thus keeping them responsible for themselves.

    What Scott, and I and many others argue, is that it is more financially and socially rational to reserve jail for people who are actual dangers to society, and use other methods of punishment for people who have done wrong but are still valuable members of society. It’s a cost-benefit analysis.

    As someone who leans conservative in many ways, it’s not a bleeding-heart issue at all for me. It’s a “don’t waste my tax dollars putting a successful businessman in jail” issue. Leave him out, and he’ll generate revenue and jobs through his business, even if lots of it goes to a large fine (double-benefit for the government & society). Lock him away, most of that benefit vanishes and we have another expensive inmate on our hands.

    Assess a large fine, potentially so large that they have to move back into a small house and scrimp the way they did through the “donation” years, and he’s clearly being punished yet the family remains together and the business remains open and profitable. Assess significant community service and we all benefit in some non-financial way. Do both of these and a strong message is still sent. Send him to jail and you just gutted a business and raised our taxes. Makes no sense to me.

    Is the satisfaction of “lock ’em up” politics worth the fiscal & social price in a case like this? I find it fascinating that it does seem to be, loosely, liberal-minded people supporting the Hamoodis when there is a very strong fiscal and family-values conservative case for handling their case gently.

    We’re helping support the family precisely because we feel this is a case of government run amok and don’t want to be a passive part of that.

    Interestingly, in my understanding Roman law (and thus much European law) was more judge-based (no jury) and gave the judge broad powers to interpret or even ignore law to meet the circumstances in individual cases. Of course this has downsides, but our system even when it involves judges takes a much stricter interpretation of law and punishment, also with up and downsides. Is the fervor of “the law is the law, lock ’em away” in this case a reflection of that, or is it a specific reaction to something about the Hamoodis?

  6. The thing you fail to realize is that he knowingly and *repeatedly* broke the law. He fully intended to fly in the face of our laws, so no…fines and community service is not enough. Had it been a one-time thing, then fine…but no, he repeatedly gave the middle finger to the United States when he did what he did. For that, nothing short of jail time is appropriate for him.

    It’s time that these foreigners realize that if they choose to live in the United States, they have to follow our rules. If they don’t like the rules, they can go back where they came from. It’s pretty simple.

  7. Anyone else questioning the logistics of wire transferring money while also extending a middle finger? Doesn’t seem plausible. This alone makes me question all of Michael’s comments.

  8. I was going to ask Michael why he visits a food blog only to comment on this one particular issue, but then I remembered one of my life rules:

    The words “these foreigners” shall marketh the end of any conversation we were having.

  9. So in other words, you cannot refute what I say. It’s nice that you concede your defeat in this debate.

  10. The whole “these foreigners” schtick has been used on pretty much every ethnic group in American history, including our own Scandinavian and German ancestors. Every generation seems to have its ethnic bugaboo that sounds absurdly silly later on; Muslims and Mexicans seem to be most current.

    Last I checked, there were plenty of “real Americans” breaking laws too, but no efforts to deport them. Every Anglo-Saxon drunk driver does more potential harm to society than sending money to overseas family, but we don’t send them all back to the U.K. as traitors to patriotism. That’s a really absurd argument, but beyond that I’ll take Scott’s cue and just leave well enough alone. One of those issues that people are destined to disagree on.

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