A federal jury sitting in Tampa this month found Galal Ramadan guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and fourteen counts of mail fraud. Ramadan, who lives in Tampa, faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison on each count at sentencing. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced on November 1, 2012.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Ramadan started a bulk mail company in 1994. Through that company, G.R. Marketing and Graphic Design, in 2000, he obtained a permit from the U.S. Postal Service which allowed him to send bulk mail using a permit imprint in lieu of a stamp (you’ve probably seen these on bulk or “junk” mail you receive in your mailbox).
Prosecutors say that, in 2005, Ramadan and a truck driver discussed a way to exploit an internal controls process in the U.S. mail delivery system that would allow Ramadan to avoid paying for mail service, while still billing his customers for postage. That year, according to the government, Ramadan and the driver began sending bulk mail without paying the postage to the U.S. Postal Service. Ramadan and the driver continued this plan for approximately two years. During this time, Ramadan continued to bill his customers for the postage.
Normally, a company such as G.R. Marketing would produce a “Postage Statement” with each bulk mailing being reviewed by a postal clerk who verifies the number of items to be mailed and the total postage due. Prosecutors say the clerk then withdraws the postage from the prepaid account and attaches a “Release to Operations” tag onto a pallet carrying the bulk mail. That tag signifies to postal workers that postage is paid and the mail cleared for delivery.
But prosecutors say Ramadan’s truck driver brought the bulk mail by truck to a postal processing center with a counterfeit or stolen “Release to Operations” tag already attached. Other times, bulk items without postage paid were allegedly commingled with other mailings that already had postage properly charged.
In August 2006, though, Ramadan attempted to expand his business into political mailings. Unlike his other clients, the political campaign organizations required a receipt from the Post Office, which Ramadan was not able to provide. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service then received a tip about the scheme and initiated an investigation. In total, federal prosecutors say Ramadan mailed more than five million pieces of mail without paying the required postage to the U.S. Postal Service, avoiding postage due of over $1 million.
Ramadan was indicted on October 13, 2011 after the truck driver pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Ramadan.