HAMMOND — A Middle Eastern man is being detained here for embezzling $408,000 and trying to flee the country.
Marwan "Mike" Kawar is being held in an area jail after U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joshua Kolar ordered him detained without bond Wednesday.
Kawar pleaded guilty last July to using his position as plant manager for Multi-Wall, a Gary packaging firm, to siphon its revenues into his personal financial account.
Kawar had been free on bond for the past year while awaiting sentencing, until his arrest Feb. 22 at O’Hare International Airport as he attempted to board a plane for the Middle East.
The U.S. attorney’s office now wants Kawar sentenced to a lengthy prison term not only for mail fraud, but also for obstructing justice by trying to board a flight.
Court papers state Kawar worked at Multi-Wall for seven years, rising to the position as its procurement administrator.
The government alleges he used his inside knowledge of the business to create phony purchase orders that diverted his employer’s money to a sham company Kawar created.
Prosecutors said few knew about his scheme because Kawar was abusive to his co-workers, who shunned him.
Prosecutors allege Kawar also recruited a woman to aid his fraud scheme by marrying her, despite the fact he already was legally married to another.
Investigators learned of the scheme in 2019 and a federal grand jury indicted Kawar early last year. He pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was release pending sentencing.
Kawar was raised in the Middle East country of Jordan and moved to the U.S. and was living in an Illinois hotel as a permanent resident with a green card.
He agreed not to leave the country, but prosecutors allege he concealed from authorities, his Jordanian passport and secretly purchased tickets for himself, his ex-wife and his stepson from Turkish Airlines for a trip to the Island of Cyprus.
Prosecutors allege he showed up Feb. 20 at O’Hare with $10,200 in cash and his Jordanian passport. Authorities arrested him at the Turkish Airlines ticket counter.
Although Kawar faced a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, federal prosecutors had been willing, earlier, to recommend he receive a sentence of less than three years.
They now are recommending he receive a sentence of at least 57 months because of his attempted escape.