Wilson Man Arrested For Selling Stolen Baby Formula, Counterfeit Viagra
Posted February 28, 2005 5:51 a.m. EST
WILSON, N.C. — Authorities made a major bust involving stolen baby formula in the eastern part of the state. Now, investigators are tracking the cash, trying to determine if profits went to any terror groups.
When undercover police targeted a Wilson convenience store, they said they entered a complicated world of buying and selling stolen goods. They accuse the owner, Tony Hassan, of selling them counterfeit Viagra and taking the bait when they offered to sell him supposedly stolen baby formula.
"He requested as much formula as we could give him or sell to him and it just began from there," said Sgt. K.B. Pendergrass, of the Wilson Police Department.
Police said Hassan sold the formula to Abdelaziz Agoujdad in Suffolk, Va. Over time, the men bought 1,000 cases worth $250,000, investigators said. Both men face federal charges, but now the money is what federal investigators are interested in tracking.
The FBI wants to know if the money was going overseas to support any other illegal activities like terrorism. Officials said that is standard procedure in these kind of cases.
Hassan's wife, who did not want to be identified, said her husband, who has no criminal history, may be a victim.
"Tony doesn't understand much English. There are a lot of things he just doesn't understand, so I don't think he knew," she said.
Hassan recently sold his store. The new owner, Ahmad Muzher, also faces charges for possessing the fake Viagra. He said that he did not know the drugs were there when he bought the place.
Hassan is in the Wilson County Jail under a $637,000 bond. He is originally from Jordan, but police said he has been in the Wilson area for at least 15 years.
It is not the first investigation of stolen baby formula. Two years ago, FBI agents busted 20 people delivering stolen baby formula to a warehouse in downtown Raleigh. Authorities say former Raleigh businessman Salah Abu-Gharbieh, was convicted of stealing more than $13 million worth of formula over a three-year period.
Abu-Gharbieh is currently serving five years in prison for his role in that theft ring.