RICHMOND (Covering Katy News) -Scam artist Muhammad Haroon Rashid was sentenced to 30 years in prison recently after pleading guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity. Rashid, 62, was sentenced by 458thDistrict Court Judge Kenneth Cannata. Now, there is an arrest warrant out for Rashid because he did not show up for his sentencing and an earlier court hearing in June.
Rashid’s partner in crime, Gerald Dale Hendrix, appeared for all court dates and was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Cannata.
The schemes involved the defendants promising business loans or the sale of collector’s grade antique bonds for exorbitant sums of money if the victims paid the up-front expenses associated with the transactions. Eighteen victims relied on Hendrix’s promises and transferred more than 5 million dollars to Rashid. Rashid spent the money on a lavish lifestyle in Mexico City; leasing hotel suites for months on end, and paying some of the funds to Hendrix and other associates.
When Rashid and Hendrix’s promises to return the expense money did not materialize, the victims filed civil lawsuits. Some reported the matter to the Sugar Land Police Department, kicking off an investigation that revealed 17 other victims being defrauded throughout the United States during this ten-year period.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Cannata commented on the complete lack of remorse and assessed the maximum $10,000 fine and over $4,000,000 in restitution against Rashid. The defendant’s formal sentencing has been delayed pending his arrest. He is believed to be in Miami, Florida.
“This prosecution demonstrates the reach of Texas law to protect innocent victims not only in Fort Bend County but in other counties and states, who rely upon ostensibly honest business partners and are defrauded,” said Carpenter.
“This prosecution also shows the eagerness of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute financial crimes,” said District Attorney John Healey, “and Carpenter enjoys few things more than to give criminals an appropriate dose of justice.
Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity is a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Attorney Jeff Deason represented Hendrix.
Rashid’s attorney withdrew from the case after Rashid failed to appear in June.