A Madison man whose family owns two gas stations in Janesville was indicted Thursday on allegations that he fraudulently used bank account information belonging to the Libyan Embassy to pay state sales and use taxes and the electricity bill owed by the businesses.
Federal court documents state that Ahmad Kanan, 48, whose wife owns a BP gas station and a Clark gas station in Janesville with others in Massachusetts, used the routing and account numbers of the bank account belonging to the Embassy of Libya Military Attaché to make the tax and utility payments in 2017.
Kanan was charged in September in a criminal complaint with a single count of access device fraud. He was jailed briefly but released on Sept. 21, court records show. The indictment, handed up by a grand jury on Thursday, charges Kanan with one count of access device fraud and one count of attempted device fraud.
Prosecutors allege the value of the transactions was $227,206.
Each count carries up to 10 years in prison.
According to an affidavit by state Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Dorinda Freymiller filed with the complaint in September, Kanan lives in Madison with his wife, Ghufran Kanan. She owns 52% of a company that owns a BP gas station and 80% of a company that owns a Clark gas station, both in Janesville.
Ahmad Kanan runs the businesses from an office at the Clark station.
The affidavit states:
The Embassy of Libya Military Attaché bank account is funded by the Libyan government and is used to pay educational expenses for Libyan students in the U.S.
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On July 21, 2017, a user of the state Department of Revenue’s My Tax Account online service provided the Libyan Embassy’s account details to pay $83,783 for sales tax, penalties and interest owed by the BP station.
The same user logged into My Tax Account on Dec. 21, 2017, and used the embassy’s account to pay $108,052 in sales and use taxes for the BP station, even though the balance on the account was only $87,875.
Investigators, using computer and cellphone tower data, later determined that Ahmad Kanan had made the payments.
Another payment, for $35,370, was made from the embassy’s account to pay the BP station’s Alliant Energy bill. The payment was never credited to the business’ account.
On Dec. 20, 2018, agents executed search warrants at the Kanans’ home and businesses, seizing among other things two iPhones. On one they found a photo of two checks from the Libyan Embassy’s Military Attaché account, showing account and routing number information.
The same day, someone with a username “akanan” attempted to remotely wipe one of the iPhones after it had been taken during the search warrant execution.
Agents learned from gas station employees that vendors were constantly trying to find Ahmad Kanan because of outstanding bills. Investigators also found bank balances for the BP station were low in December 2017.
Court records also indicate that around the same time, Kanan was still paying restitution for 2009 bank fraud, wire fraud and tax fraud convictions in federal court in Vermont. His supervised release was transferred to Massachusetts in 2012, then Wisconsin in 2013, after he had served a 37-month prison sentence.
As of October 2016, when a report about the end of Kanan’s supervision was provided to U.S. District Judge William Conley by a federal probation officer, Kanan still owed nearly $201,000 in restitution. Kanan, a former engineer at IBM in Vermont, was born in Egypt and became a U.S. citizen in 2000, court records state.