The founder of Milwaukee’s Arabian Fest has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for stealing $75,000 of federal block grant money. He must also pay $75,000 in restitution and a fine of $1,000.
Mhammad Abu-Shawish got a sentence on the high end because the judge believed he lied while testifying in his trial this past summer. The judge also believes that Abu-Sawish helped 22 immigrants from Jordan enter the U.S. illegally between 2000 and 2002.
The illegal immigrants allegedly were brought here with invitation letters written by Abu-Sawish, indicating they would be working at Arabian Fest, and that the festival would purchase round trip tickets for them. It is believed that the people did not really work for Arabian Fest, and instead had purchased these invitation letters for $11,000 to $14,000. Of the 22 immigrants involved, it is alleged that 11 returned to Jordan, 7 stayed in the U.S., and 4 are unaccounted for.
The defendant was convicted of receiving federal block grant money after submitting a proposal that was identical to a proposal submitted by an agency. Abu-Shawish received the $75,000 block grant, but did not use it for community purposes.
Abu-Shawish will likely be deported after serving his sentence, as he illegally obtained permanent residency in the U.S. with 2 sham marriages. He is currently serving 8 months in prison for a previous federal conviction on his involvement in a mortgage fraud scam.