Ohio man gets six years for plot to smuggle money to Hezbollah

CLEVELAND Mon May 21, 2012 7:27pm EDT

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CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An Ohio man was sentenced on Monday to more than six years in federal prison after pleading guilty to plans to ship $200,000 to the Muslim militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hor Akl, 39, of Toledo had pleaded guilty to planning to send the money inside a sport utility vehicle to Hezbollah to target Israel.

Akl was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Carr in Toledo to 75 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, the U.S. attorney's office said in a statement.

He had pleaded guilty to five counts. They included conspiracy to provide material support to a group designated as a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering, perjury and bankruptcy fraud.

Akl and his wife, Amera, who are dual citizens of the United States and Lebanon, began meeting with a man in August 2009 over plans to ship money to Hezbollah, according to court documents. The man was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The informant recorded the couple on several occasions over the next year discussing their options. Hor Akl told the informant that he had smuggled $100,000 to Lebanon by hiding the money in appliances.

After months of discussion, the Akls decided to stuff money inside a 2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer and send the vehicle to Lebanon by container ship.

The informant delivered $200,000 to the Akls house in June 2010 and told them he would bring more money later.

Hor Akl had asked for a percentage of the money he was to help smuggle into Lebanon. He told the informant he understood the money was being transported to Hezbollah and would be used to target Israel, according to court documents.

Amera Akl, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide support to a designated foreign terror group. She is serving a 40-month prison sentence.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Lisa Shumaker)

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