Local Businessman Pleads Guilty To Ripping Off Uncle Sam And The Troops, Through Peanut Butter

Categories: Courts, Crime
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Chalk up some more victories in the U.S. Attorney's fight against Houstonians who were scamming Uncle Sam as they shipped food to the troops in Iraq.

We already told you about Stephen Day, president of a company called LGI, who pled guilty in April to conspiring to defraud the government.

Yesterday the owner and operator of American Grocers, Inc. pled guilty to similar charges.

Amazingly the charges did not include the fact that he shipped Smucker's peanut butter to the troops, instead of Jif or -- in a pinch -- Peter Pan. But it was the Smucker's that helped bring Samir Mahmoud Itani down, according to the U.S. Attorney's office:

American Grocers purchased peanut butter from Smucker's to send to [a Kuwaiti company] and Smucker's included the cost of trucking the peanut butter to Houston in the price of the peanut butter. Itani, however, included additional trucking charges in American Grocers' invoice prices based upon fabricated LGI invoices.
With a name like Smucker's you know it has to be double-invoiced! Itani also conspired by including bogus trucking costs, getting discounts from transportation companies but charging the U.S. full price. Conspirators would also white-out figures on some invoices and replace them with more lucrative ones.

The July 21 announcement did not include a total of how much fraud had been involved, but earlier releases from the feds talked of about $1.9 million. That's a lot of Smucker's.

Under the plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to a sentence no longer than 24 months.

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