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Jordanian-American fitted with
By CINDY CLAYTON, The Virginian-Pilot
© February 12, 2003
Last updated: 4:09 PM
CHESAPEAKE -- A judge set a $20,000 bond today for Mohammed A. Samarah and ordered that police drive him to the federal courthouse in Norfolk to be fitted with an electronic-monitoring anklet.
Samarah's face appeared on a screen, beamed from the city's jail into General District Court by closed-circuit television, for his arraignment on eight counts of forging public documents.
The charges are mostly traffic-related, Commonwealth's Attorney Randall D. Smith acknowledged after the hearing. He declined to elaborate.
Each charge is a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Smith and his chief deputy, Nancy G. Parr, asked Judge Robert R. Carter to require Samarah to pay the full bond amount with cash or certified check. Carter also ordered Samarah to comply with bond conditions set by a federal judge earlier this week _ including the electronic monitoring _ and suspended his permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Samarah, 41, of the 800 block of Larkspur Lane in Chesapeake, is a Jordanian who became a U.S. citizen in 1994 and owns a small grocery store in Newport News.
He was arrested last week by federal agents and charged with lying to authorities about identification cards with different names that each bore his picture. He's also accused of using a false Social Security number and of having a gun that was stolen from law enforcement.
He posted a $10,000 bond on the federal charges but was held in jail until his hearing on the Chesapeake charges.
His attorney, Brian J. Donnelly, said after the hearing that the Chesapeake charges were just a spinoff of the federal case.
Samarah has used variations of his own name on driver's licenses, Donnelly said.
The federal charges stemmed from the discovery of blank college diplomas, college transcripts, multiple marriage certificates and other documents in a safe deposit box rented at a local bank. Authorities also found blank Jordanian birth certificates in Samarah's home, according to court records.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force also is investigating financial transactions that Samarah made in February 2000, court records say. The task force was established after the Sept. 11 attacks to investigate possible local links to terrorism.
Samarah's trial in Chesapeake is set for April 2.
(c) 2003 Ostergren, P.C. (Page Format Only)