NBC Philadelphia / Harry Hairston & Ed Dress
Want that trendy handbag or hot pair of sneakers, but don’t want to pay that hefty price tag that goes with it? Many don’t think twice about buying a knockoff or counterfeit from a flea market.
Well, guess what, some of the money you’re spending may be going to terrorists! NBC Philadelphia’s Harry Hairston and the NBC10 Investigators first exposed this problem last May.
Wednesday, two men were sentenced to prison for their roles in a counterfeit ring. Prosecutors said the ring was designed to finance the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah. Prosecutors admit neither defendant knew of the link to Hezbollah.
The feds classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
A U.S. judge has ordered Michael Katz, 68, of Plainsboro, N.J., to serve a year in prison and Alaa Allia Ahmed Mohamed, 43, of New York City to serve 18 months. Defense lawyers call their roles minimal.
Katz said he only agreed to load the 1,500 supposed Nike sneakers into his van as a favor to someone he owed money. More serious charges are pending against other defendants, including Moussa Ali Hamdan of Brooklyn, N.Y., captured in Paraguay last month.