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Judge not moved by Gary man who defrauded government

Updated: December 17, 2012 10:45PM



A federal judge dismissed a Crown Point man’s request for a sentence outside of prison, saying he didn’t buy the defendant’s plea for mercy.

“It’s just not persuasive,” U.S. District Judge James Moody said during Adnan Shatat’s sentencing hearing just before giving him 41 months in prison.

Shatat, 57, pleaded guilty earlier this year to running a scheme to defraud the U.S. government by buying food stamps from clients at his Gary restaurant and market, the Blue Ribbon, at pennies to the dollar, making about $1.436 million from the scheme.

Shatat asked Moody to be lenient, telling the judge that although he had made a mistake, he had also helped the community around the Blue Ribbon, at 4701 Broadway. Shatat said he would often give candy and food to children and women who came to his store.

“Can I get some reward for the good things I’ve done in my life?” Shatat asked Moody.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Berkowitz disputed Shatat, saying this was not the first time he had abused the federal food stamp program and he had actually been banned from it for life in 2005. Berkowitz said that Shatat, who came to the United States in 1978 and opened up a market in Chicago in 1984, received two warning letters in the late 1990s from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about not following the rules of the food stamp program.

Shatat’s attorney, James Foster, did not dispute the warning letters but said that Shatat was not operating the market when the federal government gave the final ban.

Shatat got around that ban by having his sons apply for the program at the new Gary restaurant but he essentially ran everything, according to court records.

“He made criminals out of his sons?” Moody asked during the sentencing hearing.

Foster asked that the punishment focus on helping Shatat, who has young children and a wife who speaks little English, pay the $1.436 million restitution instead of prison. Most of the restitution has been paid after Shatat agreed to turn over more than $700,000 in cash, $400,000 in jewelry and the Gary restaurant. However, Foster said Shatat still owes about $200,000.



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