During its first two years, a charity founded by a Muslim doctor to help poor children in Iraq sent more than $400,000 to a clothing merchant in Jordan, according to a federal investigator.
FBI Special Agent Jim Kolbe said no money raised by Help the Needy in 1995 and 1996 went to any charitable organizations, as contributors had been led to believe.
Instead, Kolbe told a U.S. District Court jury that all the contributions to Help the Needy in those first two years went to "commercial entities."
Dr. Rafil Dhafir, 56, of Manlius, is on trial on charges of conspiring to violate the U.S. embargo then in effect against Iraq, as well as defrauding Medicare out of $274,000 through his former Rome oncology practice. He is also accused of evading $400,000 in federal income tax payments by writing off the illegal charity donations.
According to the government, Help the Needy solicited more than $5 million over the Internet and by mail between 1995 and February 2002, claiming it would help starving and oppressed Iraqis.