PARMA, Ohio — Fouad Abdulkadir, 42, Parma is facing a 52-count federal indictment with various counts of wire fraud, aggravated identify theft and theft of public money, according to the Department of Justice.
U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan said Abdulkadir devised and enacted a scheme to defraud the state of Ohio and steal public funds.
The Department of Justice said around November of 2016 Abdulkadir submitted fraudulent applications and received funding for employment and income assistance while he was employed. According to court documents, he was employed as the ‘Resident Scholar’ at an unidentified Parma religious center where he allegedly received a yearly salary, health insurance and bonuses.
Just before Abdulkadir’s alleged scheme began, he served as the Imam for The Islamic Center of Cleveland.
According to Ziad Tayeh, the current president of the center, Abdulkadir was the imam from the summer of 2014 to approximately May of 2016.
“A good imam is a role model. It’s someone who treats people well, who takes criticism well, who is able to offer spiritual guidance to people, who is able to be there for hard times and good times,” said Tayeh.
Tayeh said it’s important to note that Abdulkadir was strictly a spiritual adviser at the center and it was before the alleged crimes occurred.
“He had nothing to do with the day-to-day management of the center. He had nothing to do with the activities of the center. He definitely had nothing to do with the finances of the center, didn’t have access to our financial information, had no access to our bank accounts,” said Tayeh.
According to court documents, in 2016 the Islamic Center of Cleveland fired Abdulkadir and served him with a temporary restraining order after, according to records, he trespassed, promoted division and threatened civil unrest.
“All of the allegations related to his financial crimes were after his employment ended with the Islamic Center,” said Tayeh.
Tayeh said the center and its hundreds of members are a tight-knit community filled with loving people and that the current charges against Abdulkadir have nothing to do with the center and its patrons.
“Even to the extent these allegations are true, obviously, they shouldn’t be associated with our center or Muslims at large. There are bad apples in every religion, not to say that he is a bad apple, but just to say that no one has the right to paint an entire community with their own brush,” he said.
Abdulkadir had an initial appearance Tuesday, he was released on bond. His next court date has not yet been set.