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New charge, hearing for fraud suspect

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A new charge and a possible change of plea came in Utah's federal court Monday for the brother of a man who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida.

Bassam Omar of San Diego was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2005, along with Alaa Ramadan, for an alleged mortgage fraud scheme involving houses in Sandy and Bountiful.

There was a change of plea scheduled Monday before federal district Judge Dale Kimball. The hearing was sealed, however, meaning the public was not allowed inside, and attorneys could not talk afterward about what happened.

Also on Monday, a new misdemeanor indictment was filed in federal court against Omar. Count one alleges Omar helped Ramadan to not file a federal income tax return for 2002. Count two says Omar abetted Ramadan in not filing a tax return again for 2003.

The felony indictment filed previously, charging fraud and money laundering, alleged Omar and Ramadan ran a phony construction company and pocketed more than $121,000.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Utah had Omar under the microscope in 2006 as they investigated whether any of his money was sent to his brother, Shawqi Omar, who is being investigated for possible ties to al-Qaida. At the time, Shawqi Omar was in military custody.

Shawqi Omar also lived in Utah in the mid- to late '80s. Bassam Omar told KSL-TV in 2006 that his brother was not a terrorist and that the accusations were unfair.