Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004

Suspect in brewery scandal skips town — again

October 2, 2004


A man accused of scamming investors in a local brewery and skipping town in the mid-1990s was brought back to Douglas County this summer to face criminal charges after being arrested on a traffic stop in Illinois.

Then, he made bond. He walked out of the Douglas County Jail. And this week, it became clear that Allen Salah had left town again.

Before failing to show up at a Thursday hearing in Douglas County District Court to answer to a securities-fraud case related to the defunct Sports Page Brewery, Salah sent his defense attorney an e-mail saying his parents had been involved in an auto accident in Canada, prosecutors said.

Judge Michael Malone issued another warrant for Salah's arrest. Now, authorities are wondering if he'll come back.

"I've been surprised before. It might happen," said Fran Brunner, associate general counsel with the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner. "If he can verify that this accident actually happened and he's at his parents' bedside, he can come back and explain it to the court."

Steve Robson, the bondsman who got Salah out of jail Aug. 12, said Salah called him Friday afternoon to say he was sending his defense attorney a newspaper clipping verifying details of the accident. Robson, of Arrow Bail Bonds, said he doubted Salah would call and check in with his bondsman if he was trying to flee.

"If he is on the run, I'm going to be looking for him harder than anybody," Robson said.

Unpaid bills, upset investors

Salah, who has past felony convictions for bank fraud, is charged in a seven-count complaint alleging securities fraud and other violations in late 1995 and early 1996 related to Sports Page Brewery -- now 75th Street Brewery -- at Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive. The total amount of money involved in the case is $78,500, but there are more investors who aren't involved in the case, Brunner said.

In December 1996, days after an attempted arson nearly torched the yet-unopened brewery, Salah burned paperwork in his fireplace on Stone Meadows Drive and left town with his passport, his wife later testified in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Salan left behind unpaid contractor bills, angry investors and nearly $1 million in debt, a matter that's still being settled in bankruptcy court. Salah was not charged with attempted arson.

The state's securities commissioner filed criminal charges against Salah in 1999. According to an arrest warrant in the case, Salah has five aliases and has been known to use five Social Security numbers.

"Our information is that Mr. Salah is a native of Jordan and has been for a certain amount of the last five years living in Bahrain," Brunner said.

His criminal file sat untouched for five years.

Then, on June 29, police stopped him for a traffic violation in Illinois and realized he was wanted in Kansas. He was transported in custody and made his first appearance Aug. 4 in District Court, where a judge set his bond at $50,000.

The state of Texas also notified the court it wanted to extradite Salah for a parole violation.

Living in Illinois

On an application for a court-appointed attorney, Salah wrote that he was a computer programmer who lived in Naperville, Ill., had a 26-year-old wife, two teenage daughters and a 10-month-old daughter.

He listed his income as $2,000 per month, said he didn't own a home and had no business income, and said he had about $275 at his disposal.

Preliminary hearings are supposed to be held in 10 days. But Salah's was postponed for seven weeks as the Securities Commissioner's Office made arrangements to prosecute the case. Salah's attorney requested the bond be reduced to $15,000 pending the preliminary hearing, and Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney's office didn't oppose the reduction.

Salah posted bond Aug. 12: $15,000 for the securities-fraud case and $5,000 for the extradition to Texas.

Salah's court-appointed attorney, Craig Stancliffe, said Friday he couldn't comment about the case or say whether he'd been in touch with his client.

A call to the telephone number listed on Salah's court records wasn't returned Friday. Investors listed as witnesses in Salah's criminal case didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

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