Thursday, January 16, 2003

Records: Approvals granted to Yemenis

Businessman in federal court today

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Yemen-born businessman who faces federal legal troubles and has been implicated in a "scheme to violate immigration laws" had U.S. government approval to bring 22 Yemeni craftsmen here to do stained-glass work, according to documents filed in federal court Wednesday.

Ali Aladimi, scheduled for a federal court appearance today, says he's innocent of stolen-goods charges because he didn't know that a shipment of Gerber baby products had been reported stolen from Mississippi before it arrived at his West Chester Township warehouse Dec. 30.

Authorities searched the Twins Wholesale Inc. warehouse again on Monday, looking for baby formula and materials they said might be used to alter expiration dates, but so far no one has been accused of doing so.

Mr. Aladimi, 41, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Beavercreek, near Dayton, has not been charged with offenses involving the Yemenis. But authorities last week cited his connection to them as a reason why he should remain in custody without bond.

Janet Kravitz, a Columbus lawyer who represents Mr. Aladimi, filed a 107-page document in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati on his behalf Wednesday, saying authorities "misrepresented" Mr. Aladimi's arrangements involving the Yemenis. She also said factors in the case weren't weighed properly and her client's bond request should be reconsidered.

An assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the case, Amul Thapar, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But in a Jan. 6 federal court hearing, Mr. Thapar argued Mr. Aladimi should remain in detention because of numerous issues "that should worry the court" about Mr. Aladimi:

A 2001 federal indictment involving sales of pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter drug that turned up in an illegal California methamphetamine lab, is pending against him.

Large amounts of cash were found at his home in 1999.

He has frequently traveled to Yemen, and has used an alias.

He tried to sponsor 25 "foreign nationals to come into this country for improper reasons," Mr. Thapar said.

Ms. Kravitz countered there was nothing unlawful about her client collecting cash and using an alias "for a short duration" years ago.

Ms. Kravitz asserted that her client "lawfully proceeded through all necessary regulatory channels" to obtain approvals for the Yemenis to enter the country.

Ms. Kravitz attached "approval notices" that the Immigration and Naturalization Service issued on June 6, 2001. The notices list 22 Yemenis who were supposed to work for Mr. Aladimi.


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