The former manager of the Thriftway Food Center in Orono was sentenced Wednesday to two years probation for illegally using his family members’ credit cards to obtain more than $107,000 to keep the store in business.
Mohammad K. Mohmand, 43, of Wayland, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in May to one count of access device fraud. In early 2020, Mohmand used 11 credit cards, authorized by their owners, to purchase property and operate the old Thriftway, located on Route 2 near the Rangeley Road entrance to the University of Maine.
The contract with the bank that issued the cards, however, stipulated that they could only be used for in-store purchases or refunds of purchases made by customers, not to hold doors open.
According to federal prosecutors, improperly treating the $107,000 as “returned funds” is what made Mohmand’s actions fraudulent.
The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Lance Walker, was a joint recommendation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and defense attorney Thimi Mina of Portland. Mohmand paid restitution before he was sentenced.
Mohmand, a Muslim, was eager to repay money owed to vendors and others in January 2020 before his family handed over the store to a previous owner. About two years later, the store closed.
“In Islam it is considered a sin to die without paying debts, or for that matter, to use or sell alcohol, which the store did,” Mina wrote in his sentencing memorandum. “These practices have caused internal conflicts,
who has driven [Mohmand] question his career as a grocer.
Mohmand was born in 1978 in the Peshawar region of Pakistan, the eldest of six siblings, according to Mina. Mohmand’s father, who was one of the few educated men in the village, had pledged to educate his children and move his entire family to the United States.
The father and eldest son arrived in the United States in 1992, but it would be another eight years before Mohmand’s mother and younger siblings could be reunited with the two men, Mina said. The family settled in Massachusetts, and all but his mother became citizens.
In 2004, at the invitation of a family friend, Mohmand and his family moved to Orono with his father, who assumed ownership of the Orono Thriftway and his lease from another Pakistani immigrant.
Mohmand worked as manager of his father’s store, and over the next decade the business ran reasonably well and met the basic needs of the large family, the memorandum says. In return, each family member had to help the business and support it financially if necessary.
Mohmand wanted to leave the business in 2019 as the store struggled to stay afloat in the face of growing competition, and he tried to reconcile the conventional Western business practice of deficit spending and borrowing with his religious tenets, the official said. ‘Defence lawyer.
In January 2020, the family of the former owner of the Thriftway agreed to continue its operation, with its debt retained by Mohmand’s father.
“Against the weight of his financial responsibilities to his extended family and dependents, [Mohmand] was committed to honoring the obligations made by others on behalf of the store,” Mina said. “Reasonably believing that these obligations were undertaken for the benefit of the business, and under pressure to meet the obligations before handing over the store to a new owner within the next 48 hours, [Mohmand committed this crime.]”
Mohmand faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.