Maad, owner of the now-defunct Frontier Printing Services in Anchorage, was originally found guilty of two counts of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud and two counts of lying to the government in connection with bank and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan applications. Prosecutors said he lied on the applications by not disclosing that he filed for bankruptcy in 1986 and was convicted of shoplifting in 1986 and 1993. Prosecutors also said that Maad falsified reports of company assets as well as statements about money he had in the bank. He was sentenced to six months incarceration. In January 2002, the remaining assets of Maad's business were sold at auction, but the proceeds only repaid part of the $242,000 SBA loan.
However, Maad appealed his conviction, and in September 2003, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal trial 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.
After a retrial, Maad was convicted in March 2004 of making a false statement to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) when securing a loan and sentenced to three years probation. Because the government auction of his remaining assets in January 2002 did not fully pay off the $242,000 loan he secured from the SBA, Maad was also sentenced to pay $150,000 restitution at a minimum rate of ten percent of his income per month to satisfy the unpaid balance. To better ensure restitution payment, one of the conditions of probation imposed upon him forbade him from incurring debt or applying credit without prior approval of his probation officer.
However, there's much more to this story. Mike Maad, who is of Syrian origin, first captured the attention and sympathy of Anchorage in 2001 when his print shop was damaged and expensive equipment vandalized just days after the 9/11 attacks. Someone wrote "We hate Arabs" on a wall. Maad claimed a loss of $500,000 in value. Suspecting a possible "hate" crime and previously sensitized by the frozen paint ball attacks on a number of local residents in downtown Anchorage, mostly Alaska Natives, in January 2001 by Charles Wiseman and two former Chugiak High School students, hundreds of local residents, offended by the suggestions of racism, donated money to a fund for Maad and signed petitions saying "Not in Our Town", under the auspices of Bridge Builders of Alaska, formed in 1996 by then-Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom as a means to foster greater unity in the face of increasing diversity. Ironically, Maad was the vice-president of Bridge Builders at the time his troubles began. But shortly thereafter, the city was turned upside down emotionally when Maad was actually arrested and a Federal prosecutor said he was a suspect in the damage case, claiming that Maad vandalized his own shop. However, the latter allegation could not be proven, and so Maad ultimately was prosecuted only for lying on the federal loan application, after the original verdict was struck down..
At Friday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said Maad continued to conduct his life "on the edge," cut corners and get himself in trouble. He worked for the state for a time as a publications specialist but lost that job in May for reasons never made public, after Alaska State Troopers (AST) began investigating the business relationship he had with a friend who got state printing contracts. The status of that investigation was not disclosed on Friday.
However, a June 16th story in the Anchorage Daily News offered additional details about the circumstances surrounding the AST investigation and his subsequent job loss. The story quotes Jeff Kasper, a public information manager for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, as saying, "I can't tell you why he was terminated or any details on what happened". Kasper supervised Maad's work as a $45,000-a-year publications specialist and said there were no issues with him until recently. "Mike did an excellent job. He was very competent", Kasper explained.
Maad started work with the department in 2003 to design publications, brochures, posters and other materials on public health topics such as cancer prevention and anti-smoking efforts. He oversaw production and also did Web design, Kasper said. Maad also worked with commercial printers to establish specifications for print jobs and solicited bids from printers on small projects. A business called Horizon Graphics won some of the print contracts that Maad oversaw, Kasper said. Horizon is owned by Imad Hereimi, according to a state database of business licenses.
The trooper investigation, which began in early April, concerns Maad's business relationship with Hereimi, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said. Troopers aren't releasing any more information at this point. In a telephone interview, Hereimi said he doesn't understand why his friend Maad is under investigation or why his own home was searched. While Maad helped him with his printing business, he wasn't getting paid, Hereimi said.
Horizon Graphics operates as a middleman and doesn't do any actual printing, Hereimi further explained. It subcontracts the work out to printers and has won maybe 15 or 16 small state contracts, some for just a few hundred dollars, he said. It is run mainly out of his other business, Golden Donuts on Tudor Road, where Hereimi works nights cooking doughnuts. He said he started Horizon Graphics in October to find another way of making money after 20 years of doughnut making.
Hereimi further noted that Maad advised him on how to submit bids for the state contracts and also helped with invoicing.
This case actually received some national publicity. On May 30th, 2003, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin had this to say about this issue:
The tale of Nezar "Mike" Maad follows the same basic plot. Maad, an Arab-American businessman and "tolerance advocate," owned a print shop in Anchorage, Alaska. On Sept. 21, 2001, someone destroyed equipment and spray-painted "We hate Arabs" inside the store. Community leaders created the "Not in Our Town" fund, a city-backed charity which raised a whopping $75,000 for Maad. A local newspaper editorial declared unequivocally that the incident "was a hate crime. It was vandalism. It was a statement against bedrock American values . . . "
Five months after Maad was "victimized," a jury convicted him of federal fraud charges. During the hate crime investigation, agents discovered that Maad had lied on bank loan applications and federal forms about his business finances and prior criminal convictions. Nevertheless, Maad received a reduced sentence of six months' prison time.
The FBI dropped its hate crime investigation; Maad and his wife remain the prime suspects in the languishing property damage case.
Analysis: Shortly after the January 2001 paintball attacks, then-State Senator Georgianna Lincoln (D-Rampart) introduced hate crime legislation in the Alaska State Senate. Her bill ultimately languished, and State Senator Bettye Davis (D-East Anchorage) picked up the baton later. Her bill, SB181, is currently fast asleep in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will remain until the 2007 session. Chances of passage are not good.
Nor should it pass. Suspected hate-crime hoaxes like the Maad case are only one reason. American Renaissance thoughtfully provides us with a list of hate-crime hoaxes, replete with links. However, the fundamental problem with hate-crime/hate-speech designation is that it criminalizes thought and motive. It requires judges and juries to "play God". In Canada and Western Europe, so-called "hate" laws have actually been used to criminalize dissent. The best approach is to classify all crime as hateful; anyone who commits a crime hates the law, at the very least. The customary distinctions between negligence, passion, and calculation are sufficient.
Tags: politics , brrreeeport , hate crimes , Alaska , racism