CLEVELAND: A Fairlawn man who was indicted as part of a federal corruption investigation against Summit County Councilwoman Tamela Lee has accepted a plea deal in the case.
Samir Abdelqader, 19, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to a charge of making false statements to law enforcement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed not to seek jail time as part of the plea agreement.
Samir Abdelqader is scheduled to be sentenced at 2 p.m. May 10 before Judge Christopher Boyko.
He was one of four people indicted in December following the investigation. The others charged are Omar Abdelqader, 49, of North Canton, Samir’s uncle, and Abdelrahman Abdelqader, 42, of Canton, Samir’s father.
Authorities have accused Lee of accepting small amounts of cash, packs of cigarettes and food in exchange for using her political influence to help the Abdelqader family.
Lee and her co-defendants were indicted in federal court in Cleveland Dec. 10, with Lee named as the main offender. The 11-count indictment accuses them of conspiracy to deprive Summit County taxpayers of the “honest and faithful services of Lee” through bribery, kickbacks and lies to FBI agents about material information in their investigation. Lee, Omar Abdelqader and Abdelrahman Abdelqader have each pleaded not guilty. The Abdelqader brothers own several convenience stores in the Akron area, including a Bi-Rite store on Diagonal Road.
Samir Abdelqader faced up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed not to bring any other criminal charges against Samir and to recommend that he be sentenced to no more than three days in prison with credit given for the three days he previously served. The parties made no agreement to the amount of probation or fine, according to the 14-page plea agreement.
Part of the investigation centered on Omar seeking help from Lee with a criminal case against Samir. Samir, who at the time was a juvenile, was charged with felonious assault in Summit County Juvenile Court for striking another man with a red Mercedes Benz on June 1, 2014.
Samir lied to FBI agents when he was interviewed Sept. 9, 2014, at his Akron home when he said he wasn’t aware of anyone asking Lee for help with his case and that he didn’t know if Lee talked with anyone about the case, according to the plea agreement.
“Samir well knew when he made the statements to special agents of the FBI that the statements were false,” the agreement states.
Jack Morrison Jr., Samir’s Akron attorney, didn’t return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.
Lee has served on the County Council since 2011 and as the second ranking officer in the county Democratic Party. She is being represented by federal public defender Timothy Ivey. Ivey couldn’t be reached for comment.
As part of Lee’s bond, she was barred from having any contact with Summit County employees. But the court modified that earlier this month so she can apply for Medicaid through the county, according to court records.
The trial date in Lee’s case recently was bumped up to 9 a.m. April 13 before Boyko. A final pre-trial is scheduled for April 6.
Lee denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Beacon Journal after her indictment. She filed in mid-December to run for re-election this year for her District 5 council seat. She faces competition.
“I have always served my constituents with the utmost integrity,” she said. “I would never do anything to jeopardize that. I would never do anything to harm the people I serve.”
She said she knew the defendants through her husband, who is Arabic.
“They have always been around since I’ve known my husband,” Lee told the Beacon Journal. “I was told they were family.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith. Beacon Journal staff writer Rick Armon contributed to this report.