Support Groups Discuss Ways to Help Columbia Store Owner
COLUMBIA - Hundreds of people gathered together at Rock Bridge Christian Church Wednesday to show support for Shakir Hamoodi and his family. Hamoodi was recently sentenced by a federal judge to three years in prison after pleading guilty to sending $200,000 to his family in Iraq over a twelve-year period. By sending this money, Hamoodi violated federal sanctions that prohibited such payments.
"All of you out there would do the exact same thing if you were in his shoes. Imagine you being here and your mother or your father or your sister and brother in another part of the world and they need help. What are you going to do? Are you going to turn your back on them or are you going to practice the family values," speaker Paul Pepper said.
Six people shared their personal experiences with Hamoodi at the event and reflected on what they said was an unjust prison sentence. There was also time set aside for the public to ask questions.
Maureen Dickmann said the money he sent was life preserving.
"One terrible example, his sister was pregnant, needed some medication only $10, didn't have it, couldn't get it and she lost the baby. Because of the money that he was able to send over the years that didn't happen," Dickmann said.
So far support groups have set up a petition that they hope eventually makes it to President Obama's desk. They gave the public copies of the petition so they could duplicate it and spread the word.
The petition states the following:
"To whom it may concern: I hereby pledge support for Dr. Shakir Hamoodi and his family and affirm a desire that his 36 month sentence be commuted."
Panelists strongly encouraged the public to shop at World Harvest Foods were Hamoodi was the owner. This would help support his family during his absence. A trust fund called "Hamoodi Family Benefit Trust" was also set up by a local lawyer to provide donations to the family.
Dickmann said to it is important that we share his testimony when we are out gathering signatures and donations.
All donations should be mailed to the following address:
Attorney Craig Van Matre, 1103 East Broadway, P.O. Box 1017, Columbia, MO 65205.