Thursday, March 10, 2011
Queens woman, Claire Abdeldaim, convicted of smuggling $170K in her UNDERWEAR at JFK
A Queens woman has been convicted of smuggling nearly $170,000 in her underwear to avoid paying taxes on the sale of property in the Sudan.
Claire Abdeldaim faces up to 21 months in prison and forfeiture of the entire real estate booty to the government when she is sentenced later this year.
Abdeldaim, 64, had stitched 1,699 $100 bills into the bloomers she put on before flying from Khartoum after selling an undeveloped tract of land owned by her late husband.
She was nabbed at Kennedy Airport last June after falsely claiming that she was carrying only $17,000.
Assistant Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Una Dean acknowledged that Abdeldaim was not a money launderer or trying to sneak illicit money into the country. Still, she broke the law.
"Don't let the defendant's lawyer tug at your heartstrings," Dean told the jury in closing arguments.
"All the law requires is to truthfully report how much you're carrying if it's in excess of $10,000," the prosecutor said.
Defense lawyer John Carman had argued that the his Haitian-born client may have misunderstood the customs declaration form. She intended to give the proceeds to her children.
"It's a devastating verdict," Carman said outside court Wednesday. "They're taking away the inheritance of her children."
Abdeldaim's boss at a Bronx nursing home had testified that the defendant had a thick accent but had no problem understanding or writing English in her duties supervising social workers.
"Efforts to smuggle cash into the United States are common ...there is no incentive for creative efforts to circumvent the law," said James Hayes, special agent-in-charge of Homeland Security investigations in New York.
Federal Judge Jack Weinstein scheduled sentencing for June 20. She remains free on $100,000 bail.