A dual citizen of the United States and Syria who evaded arrest for over two decades pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay gratuities to a federal public official.
According to court documents, between 1993 and 1998, Ammar Kanaan, 61, of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, while working as a private sector contractor providing transportation engineering services to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), engaged in a scheme to provide unlawful cash payments and money orders to an FHWA official. To reimburse themselves for the funds paid to the public official, Kanaan and other contractors – with the official’s permission – submitted false invoices through which they obtained FHA funds to which they were not entitled.
Shortly after federal agents interviewed Kanaan about this conduct in 1998, he fled to Syria and then subsequently to the United Arab Emirates. Kanaan successfully challenged extradition in both countries. Through the dedicated efforts of federal law enforcement, however, Kanaan was ultimately located and arrested by Italian authorities while traveling in Italy in August 2022. Italian authorities extradited Kanaan back to the United States on Jan. 5.
Kanaan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay gratuities. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Italian Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Appeal of Milan, and Italian law enforcement authorities provided invaluable assistance. The U.S. Marshals Service transported Kanaan back to the United States, with valuable support from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Craig Miles of the DOT Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG), Mid-Atlantic Region made the announcement.
The FBI Washington Field Office and DOT-OIG are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Jonathan E. Jacobson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is prosecuting the case.
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