A Westbrook man accused of conspiring with his brother to defraud federal nutrition programs was found guilty in federal court Thursday.

Abdulkareem Daham was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the federal government by allowing recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children to trade their food vouchers for cash. The transactions were made at Ahram Halal Market, the Forest Avenue grocery store owned at the time by Abdulkareem’s brother, Ali Ratib Daham.

Abdulkareem Daham faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when sentenced, probably in late spring or early summer. Also, as an immigrant from Iraq who is not a U.S. citizen, he faces potential deportation.

Ali Ratib Daham is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

The two brothers were charged last April, and Ali Ratib Daham pleaded guilty in November to three of the 25 counts he faced. He also agreed to forfeit $80,000 in cash that federal agents had seized and will pay $1.4 million in restitution. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced this spring.

Ali Ratib Daham testified against his brother this week, although Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Chapman told jurors to disregard part of his testimony in which he “fell on his sword” to protect his younger brother.

According to federal officials, suspicions were raised because the average federal benefits transaction at the store was more than twice that of a much larger Hannaford supermarket nearby. Prosecutors said that at least $1.4 million of nutrition benefits transactions at the store were illegal.

Peter Rodway, Abdulkareem Daham’s lawyer, said he and his client were disappointed by the verdict, which came after a trial that began Tuesday and wrapped up Thursday morning. Rodway sought to show that Ali Ratib Daham was the instigator of the plot to defraud the programs and Abdulkareem Daham went along with it because his older brother told him what to do and the younger Daham was only a cashier at the store.

But federal prosecutors argued that Abdulkareem Daham was aware of the plot and that it was illegal.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before announcing the verdict.

Abdulkareem Daham had been released on bail while awaiting trial, but he surrendered his bail last week after federal officials sought to revoke it. Probation officials said he had continued to use marijuana even though it was barred by the terms of his release, and that he only showed up for one meeting after enrolling in a substance abuse program.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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