Former Sharon MA imam pleads guilty to lying to federal agents later on this afternoon, according to AP News and as reported on Channel 5:
"BOSTON -- A local imam plans to plead guilty to visa fraud charges in a plea deal with federal prosecutors that would give him probation."
"Muhammad Masood, a citizen of Pakistan, is the former spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of New England's Sharon mosque. His lawyer says Masood is expected to plead guilty Thursday to five charges of making false statements to immigration officials."
"A joint recommendation from Masood's attorney and prosecutors calls for him to receive three years of probation, but it is unclear whether Masood's guilty plea will result in his deportation."
"The arrest of Masood and another local imam on visa fraud charges in November 2006 prompted an outcry from the Muslim community."
Not everybody was unhappy. Some ICNE Muslims wondered what took so long. They had raised questions about his visa status long before he was arrested in 2006, and about removing the previous imam.
This guilty plea is for the criminal case against Masood. There's a separate civil case to deport Masood and several of his family members. I'm counting on Lane Lambert of the Patriot Ledger to cover this one later on today.
Read previous blog entries here about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement case that led to Masood's arrest and these charges. Especially read the federal agent's affidavit about Masood's accounts of coming and going from Pakistan. Oh, what a web we weave.....