CLEVELAND (AP) - An Ohio man accused of operating an illegal slaughterhouse has been charged with conspiracy to launder money and other counts, federal prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Amin Salem, 59, of Westlake, secretly owned several Cleveland-area gas stations and accepted food stamps at those stations, despite prior convictions for food stamp fraud. Federal authorities also accuse Salem of illegally slaughtering lambs and goats on his property in Elyria — polluting a stream with lamb and goat blood.
Salem sold the meat, which wasn't inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and allowed people to pay for it with food stamps in violation of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program regulations, authorities said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release that Salem also is charged with engaging in real estate transactions using laundered funds, making unpermitted discharges into a waterway, distribution of adulterated, misbranded or uninspected meat and being a felon in possession of firearms.
Salem's slaughtering of the animals caused the illegal discharge of blood and other bodily fluids to flow into Engle Ditch, which flows into the Black River and eventually Lake Erie, authorities said.
Salem has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, John Sammon, said in an email Sunday that they intend to prove at the trial in Youngstown that Salem is not guilty of the charges.
Money from the illegal meat sales and food stamp transactions was deposited into gas station accounts, which were then sent to accounts controlled by the Salem family, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said Salem's son, Mohamed Salem, sold the meat illegally slaughtered at his father's property and allowed people to pay for it using food stamps in violation of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program regulations. Mohamed Salem has pleaded not guilty to charges including money laundering conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Phone and email messages left Sunday for Mohamed Salem's attorney, Steven Bradley, weren't immediately returned.