Dedicated to Defending Your Rights & Protecting Your Future

Florida C-Store Owners Sentenced

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Two former Tallahassee convenience-store owners accused of submitting false income-tax returns were sentenced Monday to three years of probation and a year of home confinement by electronic monitoring.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the two could have gotten a maximum sentence of three years of jail time and a $250,000 fine per count.

The family members of the men -- Nidal Qasem and Walid Abulaban -- wiped away tears and hugged each other after the sentences were read. U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle presided at the hearing at the federal courthouse.

Qasem and Abulaban had pleaded guilty to charges including skimming profits from the Time Saver chain of stores and failing to report the federal income to the IRS for the years 1997-2000.

Before the sentencing was announced, Karen Rhew, an assistant attorney of the Northern District of Florida, tried to establish that the men had tried to obstruct the IRS investigation by failing to turn over ledgers detailing the profits the men had been skimming.

William Davis of Tallahassee, Abulaban's attorney, said that his client had been extraordinarily cooperative with the investigation by providing dozens of boxes of financial and other information to the IRS.

The Rev. Lee Johnson, husband of former Tallahassee Mayor Dot Inman Johnson, spoke about the character of both men. He said they had owned shops in low-income neighborhoods and had made donations to the community on several occasions.

Qasem's attorney, Mark NeJame of Orlando, asked the judge to consider the fact the men had lost their livelihood. A felony conviction meant they could no longer legally sell alcohol, which would hinder the convenience store sales, he said. So they sold or liquidated them. NeJame also said the men have five children each and were the sole source of income for them and other family members in Jordan.

Mickle said Rhew didn't prove a sufficient argument that they tried to block the IRS investigation. Along with the probation, each man was fined $50,000. Qasem had already paid back taxes owed of $82,938; Abulaban had paid $92,184.

After the hearing, Qasem, who was surrounded by his family, said he was satisfied with the sentencing. "I made my mistakes and I got treated fairly," he told the Democrat.

Copyright © 2005, Convenience Store News
  • ★★★★★

    Forever Have My Gratitude

    “THE MOST brilliant, and dedicated professionals I ever met! I was engaged in a very complex civil matter with my employer. The Honorable Mark NeJame is the real deal – he is irreplaceable and Orlando should be proud.”

    - A.M.
  • ★★★★★

    Best in Town

    “I was involved in a car accident, and Nejame Law Office took my case and the result was phenomenal. I got way more money than I expected.”

    - D.T.
  • ★★★★★

    Best Law Firm

    “NeJame law firm assisted me with a legal transaction and I can wholeheartedly say that they are without question the best law firm that I have ever had the opportunity to assist me in legal matters.”

    - P.T.
  • ★★★★★

    Two Felonies Dropped

    “I am very grateful for hiring the NeJame Law team in my case. They did a very good job and worked very hard intricately and in great detail which resulted in having 2 felonies dropped with no probation.”

    - B.F.
  • ★★★★★

    We would highly recommend NeJame law to anyone that asked!

    “My wife and I turned to NeJame Law when we got married and needed an immigration attorney to assist with the immigration process. We were pleased with how well we were treated and how easy our attorney made the entire process.”

    - O.H.

When Your Future Is On the Line... Help Is Here

Put NeJame Law On Your Team Today