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SOCom soldier charged with cocaine possession

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

A spokesman at U.S. Special Operations Command was arrested last week on charges of possession of cocaine.

Army Sgt. Maj. Keith Butler was arrested Feb. 13 by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, jail records show. He also was charged with driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license.

Butler, who worked in the office of public affairs, was released after posting $2,250 bond.

SOCom spokesman Ken McGraw said Butler, 40, was assigned to the command in June 2002.

He said he has been reassigned to duties that do not require access to classified material, pending the results of the criminal case.

SOCom, based at MacDill Air Force Base, oversees the nation's elite commandos and is leading Pentagon efforts in the global war on terror.

Store owner gets bail on

Michigan federal charges

TAMPA - A federal judge granted bail Thursday to a convenience store owner arrested this week on suspicion that he illegally funneled $136,500 to Europe and the Middle East.

Hasan Qasem, 42, was ordered to appear March 9 before a federal judge in Michigan. FBI agents there accuse him of violating regulations over foreign commerce under the U.S. Travel Act.

On Wednesday, government agents from Michigan arrested Qasem at his convenience store near the Lowry Park Zoo. He owns Britt's Grocery off Sligh and Rome avenues.

An FBI agent investigating Qasem said he arranged money transactions so that banks and money order providers didn't have to provide required IRS reports for exchanges of more than $10,000. He allegedly made the illegal transfers between 2002 and 2004.

In court on Thursday, Qasem had an interpreter translate the hearing to him in Arabic, but he answered the judge himself in English.

His wife, Mary, attended the hearing but declined to comment. She blew kisses to her husband after the judge granted his release on a $20,000 secured bond.