ANCHORAGE - A Syrian-born businessman who received thousands of dollars in support after someone spray-painted "We hate Arabs" and broke equipment at his business days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was arrested Tuesday on bank fraud charges.
Nezar Khaled "Mike" Maad, owner of Frontier Printing Services in Anchorage, was charged with four felonies for allegedly lying in order to get business loans, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.
U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Harry Branson ordered Maad held without bail pending a hearing Friday.
The charges arose from an FBI investigation into what many believed was a hate crime that occurred about 10 days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Computers and printing machines at Maad's business were smashed and the anti-Arab message was spray-painted across one wall. Damage was estimated at $250,000.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice reviewed the investigation by the FBI and the Anchorage Police Department and found insufficient evidence that a hate crime had occurred. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Cooper declined to answer questions about the vandalism investigation, including whether Maad is a suspect.
The investigation, however, led authorities down another path that ended up with bank fraud charges against Maad, Cooper said.
Maad told Northrim Bank last year he had equipment worth $350,450, when he knew it was far less, Cooper said. The next year he told the bank his equipment was worth even more money and he had $50,326 in cash, when his account was overdrawn by that amount, he said.
Maad received a $242,000 loan and a $15,000 line of credit from Northrim. He also allegedly lied to IOS Capital in Macon, Ga., to receive $123,000 to lease copiers, Cooper said.
Maad also lied to the U.S. Small Business Administration when he said he'd never been charged or arrested for anything other than a minor traffic violation when twice he'd been convicted of shoplifting, Cooper said.
Over Cooper's protests in court Tuesday, Maad asked that he get a public defender because he could not afford a lawyer of his own.
"Mr. Maad is applying for a free lawyer," Cooper said, when his financial statements show personal assets of $600,000.
"I can tell you that I don't have anything that is hidden," Maad told the court.
Prosecutors consider Maad a flight risk because he fled to Paris in 1988 when he was employed at a men's wear shop and was discovered selling suits from his car and pocketing the money, according to the criminal complaint.
The attack on Maad's business prompted an outpouring of community support and a fund was set up to help cover Maad's losses. Community leaders, including Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch, lined up to support the naturalized U.S. citizen.
As of Tuesday, the "Not in our Town" fund had raised about $70,000. Maad received one disbursement of $15,000. When the city heard about the federal charges, the fund's assets were frozen Tuesday.
Wuerch said contributors could get their money back if they wished. In the meantime, a three-member panel was discussing other ways to spend the money.