Two St. Thomas businessmen – brothers – were sentenced Wednesday to 44 months in federal prison for wire fraud for bilking American Express for over $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Jad Shalhout, 33, is the former president of Four Seasons Farm Supermarket, and Saker Shalhout, 35, is the former president of H & S Jewelers. After a three-day trial in March, both were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 42 counts of wire fraud. In addition to the sentence, they were both given three years supervised release upon completion of their sentences, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe.
District Court Chief Judge Curtis Gomez also sentenced Mohannad Abdel-Samad, 35, to one month in prison and three years supervised release after pleading guilty to the same conspiracy March 1.
At trial, prosecutors said the three defendants and others used the Shalhouts’canceled American Express credit cards, and other canceled credit cards belonging to a relative and an associate, at Four Seasons Farm supermarket. The defendants were able to defraud American Express by conducting off-line transactions, which bypassed the American Express credit authorization system.
American Express processed the transactions, depositing more than $1,000,000 into Four Seasons Farm’s bank account. Prosecutors say Jad Shalhout then disguised the nature, location, source, and ownership of the money.
This is not Saker Shalhout’s first brush with the law. He was also arrested in 2010 by the VIPD for illegally trading cash for gold without a license or checking identification.