Wednesday, October 15, 2003

No terror in local larcenies

Bond lowered for theft suspects

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A theft ring that authorities said reaped at least $37 million by reselling stolen goods at inflated prices from neighborhood stores in Cincinnati did not fund terrorism, a Hamilton County judge said Tuesday.

Common Pleas Judge Thomas Crush reduced the bond for nine of the 11 people accused in the alleged scam who remain jailed.Seven, including the alleged ringleader Omran Saleh, posted bond and were released.Saleh Hatter, age and address unknown, who was indicted on two charges of receiving stolen property, has not yet been arrested.

The men were charged two weeks ago in a 105-count indictment that included charges of conspiracy, money laundering, receiving stolen property and tampering with records.

Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher has said that "there is a great suspicion some of the money was used to fund terrorism."

But during the Tuesday hearing, Crush said: "The money was not sent to terrorist organizations.There is no jihad here."

He said some of the men are Muslim, some Christian and some Hindu. Four of the men, the judge said, sent money to family members in Kuwait, Bulgaria, Jordan and Hungary.

"I hardly believe they're sending money to Muslim terrorists," Crush said.

Tom Miller, a lawyer who represents one of the accused, said authorities should have investigated the case more fully.

"When they make allegations, they better be able to back it up," he said. "Suspicion is not a legal standard."


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