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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2009

U.S. claims couple tried taking cash to Jordan

A Holland couple accused of trying to spirit thousands of dollars out of the United States and into Jordan have been arraigned in U.S. District Court in Toledo.

Osama Mahmoud, 43, and his wife, Lori, 36, were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit bulk cash smuggling and of bulk cash smuggling out of the United States. The pair pleaded not guilty to the charges before Magistrate Vernelis Armstrong.

According to the indictment, which was filed Feb. 5 but kept under seal until last week, the couple were attempting to travel with their son to Jordan on a Royal Jordanian flight

July 1. Though possessing $76,464 while in Detroit Metro Airport, they each declared to have significantly less, the indictment alleges.

Mr. Mahmoud "falsely stated to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer" to have $9,000, and Mrs. Mahmoud claimed to have $8,500, the indictment said.

The couple are alleged to have hidden money in their minor son's pockets and in Mrs. Mahmoud's bra.

Both remain free on a $10,000 bond; they were ordered to surrender their passports. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The government filed a forfeiture action, which would require the couple to give up the money if convicted.

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