Smithfield man sentenced after helping brother flee country in money laundering scheme

SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — A Smithfield man will spend 18 months in prison for helping his half-brother flee the country after he was charged in money laundering scheme.

According to court documents, Mehdi Syed was charged with an account take over and identity theft scheme in March 2014. Officials say he obtained thousands of dollars from customers of SunTrust Bank by fraudulently transferring funds from individual accounts to accounts in names of aliases.

In April, 2014, Mehdi was located in North Carolina and agreed to surrender to authorities. Mehdi relocated his family from North Carolina to Smithfield, Virginia; the home of his mother, his step-father and his half-brother 19-year-old Danish Syed.

After Mehdi failed to turn himself in, authorities interviewed his family members and they each claimed they did not know his whereabouts. The next day Mehdi’s mother contacted authorities and admitted they had lied to the FBI and that Danish drove Mehdi to a hotel on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Mehdi was arrested and on May 28, 2014 was released on bond and electronic monitoring. In June, 2014, Mehdi opened several bank accounts with FirstView in the names of aliases. On July 9, 2014 Mehdi’s electronic monitoring bracelet was located in a wooded area off of Mercury Blvd. in Hampton, Virginia, and on the same day a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Officials say Danish transferred thousands of dollars into an account Mehdi had created while on pre-trial release.

From October 15, 2014 through October 30, 2014 Mehdi withdrew nearly all of the funds that Danish had deposited into the account from ATM machines located in Lahore, Pakistan.

Danish Syed will have three years of supervised release after he serves his sentence. He was also ordered to pay $35,618.28 in restitution.

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