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MAHONING COUNTY Man opts for deal in case



Published: Fri, September 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant could not explain how the steroids got there and were relocated.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Faced with insurmountable evidence against him but still maintaining his innocence, a Boardman man pleaded guilty to drug charges in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

"This plea truly reflects a rational calculation to minimize the risk that would exist at trial," Atty. J. Gerald Ingram said Thursday.

Ingram represents 40-year-old Musa Alhamid of Shadyside Drive, who was indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury in August 2000 for one count each of steroid possession and attempted steroid possession.

Police said Alhamid received a shipment of illegal anabolic steroids in June 2000 at Petra Food Mart on South Avenue, where he worked as manager.

What Alhamid didn't know was the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency had intercepted the package. A DEA agent, posing as a uniformed deliveryman, handed the package to Alhamid and watched him sign for it and place it under a counter, said Robert Duffrin, an assistant county prosecutor.

Search warrant

Agents and local police later went into the store with a search warrant. They found the box in an office area of the store, along with a "significant amount" of other steroids, Ingram said.

Vindicator files show police found 1,200 vials of steroids and 1,040 packs of steroid pills, with a total street value of about $101,000.

Police said they suspected the steroids might have been intended for sale to area athletes.

Ingram said Alhamid insists the steroids were not his, but he was unable to provide a "cohesive theory" about how the steroids came to be in the store while Alhamid was on the premises, and how they were moved from the counter to the office area.

That, coupled with the fact that Alhamid "clearly had control of the premises," created "significant evidentiary problems" for him, Ingram added.

Rather than run the risk of going to trial and being convicted of the third-degree felony charge of steroid possession, which would probably result in a prison term, Alhamid opted to make a deal, Ingram said.

Alhamid pleaded guilty to the charge of attempted possession, a fourth-degree felony for which he faces up to 18 months in prison. He could be placed on probation, however.

In exchange for the plea, Duffrin dismissed the possession charge and said he will not make a recommendation on sentencing.

Judge James C. Evans ordered that a background check be done before he sentences Alhamid, who is allowed to remain free in the meantime.

bjackson@vindy.com




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