Muhammad Haroon Rashid was sentenced to 30 years in
prison on August 10, 2018 by 458th District Court Judge Kenneth
Cannata for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity – and Rashid wasn’t even
there. The 62-year old Houston man plead
guilty in court on April 3, 2018, but failed to appear at a later court date in
June. Rashid’s bond was forfeited and a
warrant was issued for his arrest. The
case was then reset for the sentencing hearing on August 10th during
which the Court proceeded in Rashid’s absence.
According to Fort Bend’s
Chief Economic Crime Prosecutor, W. Scott Carpenter,
Texas law authorized the legal proceeding to continue in Rashid’s absence
because he appeared initially for the plea, through a process called “in
Gerald Dale Hendrix, also from Houston – and Rashid’s
partner in crime, appeared for all court dates and was sentenced to six years
The evidence revealed that Rashid and Hendrix preyed
on the business community from 2003 to 2013 through a series of deceitful schemes. The schemes involved the defendants promising
business loans or the sale of collector’s grade antique bonds for exorbitant
sums of money, if the victims paid the up-front expenses associated with the
transactions. 18 victims relied on
Hendrix’s promises and transferred more than 5 million dollars to Rashid. Rashid spent the money on a lavish lifestyle
in Mexico City; leasing hotel suites for months on end, and paying some of the
funds to Hendrix and other associates.
When Rashid and Hendrix’s promises to return the expense money did not
materialize, the victims filed civil lawsuits.
Some reported the matter to the Sugar Land Police Department, kicking
off an investigation that revealed 17 other victims being defrauded throughout
the United States during this ten-year period.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Cannata commented on
the complete lack of remorse and assessed the maximum $10,000 fine and over
$4,000,000 in restitution against Rashid.
The defendant’s formal sentencing has been delayed pending his
arrest. He is believed to be in Miami,
“This prosecution demonstrates the reach of Texas law
to protect innocent victims not only in Fort Bend County, but in other counties
and states, who rely upon ostensibly honest business partners and are defrauded,”
“This prosecution also shows the eagerness of the
Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute
financial crimes,” said District Attorney John Healey, “and Carpenter enjoys
few things more than to give criminals an appropriate dose of justice.
Engaging in Organized
Criminal Activity is a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years or life in
prison and a fine up to $10,000. Attorney
Jeff Deason represented Hendrix. Rashid’s
attorney withdrew from the case after Rashid failed to appear in June.