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Four Sentenced in License Scam

June 28, 2002

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Four men who pleaded guilty in a Tennessee driver’s license fraud case were sentenced Thursday to the nearly five months they had spent in prison awaiting trial.

Khaled Odtllah, 31, was released hours after being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald.

But his three co-defendants _ Mohammed Fares, 19, Abdelmuhsen Mahmid Hammad, 31, and Mostafa Said Abou-Shahin, 25 _ remained in custody to face deportation. They were in the country illegally at the time of their arrest.

The four were arrested Feb. 5 at a Tennessee driver’s license office and charged with the federal offense of conspiring to produce false identification documents.

Prosecutor Tim Discenza said the men seeking false identification filed out state driver’s license forms saying they were residents of Tennessee.

Odtllah then took the forms to Katherine Smith, a driver’s license examiner who approved them. Smith died five days after she was arrested in a car fire authorities say was intentionally set.

The case drew national attention after her death. The FBI investigated whether the men had ties to terrorists, but found no links.

No one has been charged in Smith’s death.

Another defendant, Sakher Hammad, who is free on bond, will be sentenced in August.

Defense lawyers have said the men traveled to Memphis from New York because they heard it was easy to get driver’s licenses in Tennessee, where Social Security numbers are not required.

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