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Bond Set for Alleged Head of Theft Ring

October 4, 2003

CINCINNATI (AP) _ A $1 million bond was set Friday for the alleged leader of a theft ring that authorities said sent millions of dollars in profits to the Middle East.

Omran Saleh, 55, was among 23 people arrested Thursday when a 105-count indictment was unsealed.

The ring knowingly bought stolen goods, including cigarettes, beer, batteries and over-the-counter medications, and resold them at profits in 12 convenience stores in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, investigators said.

Overall, the ring’s operations generated an estimated $100 million in two years. At least $37 million was moved through Saleh’s bank accounts, with much of it sent to accounts in the Middle East, police said.

Authorities are investigating whether the money was intended to support terrorism, said police spokesman Lt. Kurt Byrd.

Saleh’s daughter, Rawd Saleh, said it was not.

``Why would we send our money, that we work so hard for, send it to terrorists that are going to blow up here? Are we trying to kill ourselves? We have nothing to do with terrorism,″ she said after her father’s arraignment Friday.

Saleh faces charges including money laundering, conspiracy, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. He remained in jail and it was not immediately known if he had an attorney.

Bail also was set for 11 of the other arrested men. Saleh and most of those arrested are of Palestinian descent, authorities said.

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