Two former workers for indicted agency once accused of terrorism

CLEVELAND - A temporary employment agency indicted on federal immigration charges once hired two men who were arrested six days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, accused of being part of a terror cell, The Plain Dealer reported Friday.

Ahmed Hannan and Karim Koubriti, former workers at HV Connect, were arrested with false identification papers in Detroit and accused of forming the cell with two others.

Their former employer has been charged along with another employment agency and nine of the companies' employees with providing illegal immigrants with false documentation to businesses seeking temporary workers. The alleged scam stole $5.3 million in fees from those businesses, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Through HV Connect, Hannan and Koubriti worked briefly at Case Foods Inc., which operates the Case Farms chicken slaughterhouse near Winesburg in eastern Ohio.

Koubriti was convicted in 2003 of conspiracy to aid terrorists, and both men were convicted of document fraud. The convictions were thrown out and the charges dismissed in 2004 at the Justice Department's request, after the agency discovered some documents that could have aided the defense were not turned over by the government. The former lead prosecutor is under investigation.

According to the indictment, HV Connect and TN Job Service would place workers they said had U.S. work authorization and promise to pay payroll taxes and workers' compensation premiums from fees paid by the employers.

The government accuses the agency workers of using the money instead to build a home, buy jewelry and liquor, and spend money at casinos. The undocumented workers were paid in cash.

The government said HV Connect has operated in Philadelphia and Canton, Ohio, and TN Job Service operated in Philadelphia; Pennsauken, N.J.; and Canton and New Philadelphia in eastern Ohio.

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