Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two suspended USF students will stand trial separately

TAMPA — Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed will get separate trials on federal charges stemming from their August arrest in South Carolina, a judge ruled Monday.

Megahed, 22, will go to trial May 5 on charges of illegally transporting explosive materials and a destructive device across state lines.

Mohamed, 26, will face those charges at a trial beginning July 7, along with five additional charges that include accusations of violating his student visa by possessing a firearm, demonstrating how to make an explosive device through a YouTube video and providing material support to terrorists.

Both defendants were in court Monday to plead not guilty to a new seven-count indictment handed up by a grand jury last week. Only two counts, however, relate to Megahed. The new indictment superseded an earlier two-count indictment.

Since shortly after the suspended University of South Florida students were arrested Aug. 4, Megahed's father has called for his son to stand trial alone, saying he did nothing wrong.

"I am happy for this decision," Samir Megahed said outside the courtroom. "I am very happy, because my son is innocent, and everybody in this building will know that my son is innocent."

Adam Allen, Megahed's public defender, has for months sought to have his client tried separately from Mohamed. He worries Megahed could be convicted because of his association with Mohamed, who faces more serious charges.

Linda Moreno and Lyann Goudie, Mohamed's attorneys, declined comment.

Before U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday granted a defense request to sever the cases, Megahed and Mohamed were scheduled to stand trial together next week on the charge of illegally transporting explosive materials. Mohamed was to go to trial May 12 on the charge involving the YouTube video.

In court, Goudie asked for more time to review prosecutors' evidence, including visits by Mohamed to Arabic Web sites.

Goudie also said prosecutors have yet to turn over evidence to support their claims that Mohamed violated his student visa by possessing a firearm. Goudie said she assumes the charges may deal with two trips in July by Mohamed to a Tampa gun range.

Karim Moussaoui, a USF graduate, was convicted earlier this month on a similar charge of violating his student visa during a separate trip to the same range.

Seated in the courtroom for the first time Monday were Mohamed's parents, who live in Cairo, Egypt. They declined to comment after the hearing.

Inside court, Mohamed's mother patted her heart and blew kisses to her son as his father wiped tears from his eyes. Mohamed smiled back at them and nodded.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Two suspended USF students will stand trial separately 04/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 21, 2008 9:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The winner of 'Survivor: Game Changers?' It has to be Jeff Probst

    Blogs

    But Tampa Bay fans are more interested in whether local lawyer and ex-Buccaneer Brad Culpepper came out on top. After winning five - count ‘em five - challenges Culpepper made probably the most serious error in taking Sarah Lacina. the 33-year-old police officer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to the finals with him.

  2. To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  3. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  4. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  5. Hailed as 'pioneers,' students from St. Petersburg High's first IB class return 30 years later

    Education

    ST. PETERSBURG — The students came from all over Pinellas County, some enduring hot bus rides to a school far from home. At first, they barely knew what to call themselves. All they knew was that they were in for a challenge.

    Class of 1987 alumni Devin Brown, from left, and D.J. Wagner, world history teacher Samuel Davis and 1987 graduate Milford Chavous chat at their table.