By Arab News
A federal court in Chicago has sentenced a Haj and Umrah tour operator to nine-and-a-half-year jail for cheating a group of Pakistani Haj pilgrims and blowing their money in a casino.
Delivering the verdict, judge Judy Grey Fiesman said the convict, Rashed Minhas, “lied to God” and that is why he deserved such a harsh punishment, local media reported, quoting the Chicago Sun-Times daily newspaper.
Minhas admitted to having deceived people who trusted him with their finances to realize their dream of going for Haj. He was accused of wasting $1.3 million in the casino near Disneyland.
The Chicago Sun-Times, in its Nov. 20 edition, described Minhas as “thief” “rude” and “deceitful” after “his conscience allowed him to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from poor people who made much efforts to save up for performing Haj.”
The federal police were quoted as saying that Minhas sent electronic messages to the people he had collected money from, saying that the Saudi Embassy would not give them visas to enter the Kingdom.
Judge Fiesman said the electronic messages “were harsh and increased the nature of the crime against these poor people who trusted Minhas with their money.”
The convict reportedly maintained silence and bowed during the proceedings. When the judge allowed him to speak, he burst out crying, saying he lost everything and that he can only say he was sorry to the victims of his crime.