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Post-9/11 Conviction on Fraud Reversed

September 11, 2003|From Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — An appeals court reversed the fraud conviction of an Arab American businessman who reported his machinery was smashed and the words "We hate Arabs" were spray-painted at his printing company following the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Nezar Khaled "Mike" Maad was convicted of wire and bank fraud after an FBI investigation of the vandalism discovered he had allegedly lied the previous year about the value of his business equipment in order to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a federal judge erred by not granting a request to move Maad's trial out of Anchorage after extraordinary publicity followed the vandalism, which happened less than two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.

U.S. Atty. Tim Burgess said his office would consider an appeal, another trial or other options.

Maad's wife, Joanne, said her husband was overwhelmed by the development and did not want to comment. She said their faith in the United States and the judicial system had been validated.

Maad's attorney, federal defender Richard Curtner, said: "It's vindicating in the sense that from the beginning I was concerned about the impact of the pretrial publicity."

Maad had already completed a six-month prison sentence when the 9th Circuit judges heard his appeal last month.

They noted Wednesday that "a confluence of extraordinary and unique events" enveloped the Maad case.

Before the trial, prosecutor Dan Cooper had described Maad as a suspect in the print shop vandalism, a comment that was widely reported.

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