TAMPA — The owner of a Tampa bulk-mail company was sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison Thursday for mailing 5.6 million items without paying any postage.
Galal Ramadan, 62, of Tampa, owner of G.R. Marketing & Graphic Design, must serve three years of supervised release when he gets out of prison and was ordered to pay $1.3 million in restitution. A jury convicted him on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud at a July trial.
Prosecutors say Ramadan's customers paid him for the production of bulk mail items, including postage at a discounted, bulk rate offered by the U.S. Postal Service. Ramadan, prosecutors say, should have deposited that money into a postal account.
But from 2005 to 2007, "the conspirators exploited … vulnerabilities to send the mailings without ever paying the postage," prosecutors said in court documents.
Part of the scheme, prosecutors say, involved placing counterfeit or stolen tags on pallets carrying bulk mail. Such tags indicated to postal workers that the postage had been paid, thus clearing it for mailing.
But the scheme collapsed when Ramadan tried to expand his business into political mailings. Campaigns require receipts from the Postal Service, unlike his other clients. Prosecutors said Ramadan was unable to provide these receipts. Not long after, the Postal Inspection Service received a tip about Ramadan.
Prosecutors did not identity in his indictment which campaigns used Ramadan.
Richard Nieves, a truck driver who worked for Ramadan, cooperated with authorities. Nieves pleaded guilty to charges and was sentenced in August to six months in prison.