Columbia business owner sentenced to 3 years

Thursday, May 17, 2012 | 4:29 p.m. CDT; updated 9:51 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 18, 2012

COLUMBIA — A Columbia business owner has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for sending money to Iraq for more than a decade.

Shakir Hamoodi pleaded guilty earlier to violating federal sanctions by sending about $200,000 to family, friends and charities in Iraq from 1991 to 2003. Investigators found no evidence that Hamoodi was aiding the Iraqi government through the financial contributions.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey sentenced Hamoodi on Wednesday

Hamoodi, an Iraqi-American former nuclear scientist with MU, also owns a store in Columbia and could have faced up to 71 months in prison. The judge said Hamoodi's efforts to diffuse cultural ignorance toward Muslims and educate local residents about Islam weighed in her decision.

Hamoodi's lawyer requested probation.

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