Columbia residents seek legal options for local merchant who sent money home
COLUMBIA, 5/22/12 (Beat Byte) -- A citizens group exploring options to help World Harvest owner Shakir Hamoodi -- sentenced to three years in Federal prison for sending money to his family in Iraq during U.S. sanctions -- is holding a press conference Wednesday at 9:30 AM at the Rock Bridge Christian Church, 301 W. Green Meadows. 
The conviction strikes many as tantamount to imprisoning a man for stealing food to feed his family. Accounts say Hamoodi's money -- nearly $200,000 over 12 years -- went entirely to family members and Iraqi charities not connected to terrorism or the Iraqi regime.

"I was one of about 30-40 concerned people who on short notice gathered this afternoon at Rock Bridge," said participant David Finke on Friday. "Besides discussing longer-range plans for helping World Harvest stay viable and be supportive to his family, we divided into several tasks, starting with the press conference."
Hamoodi's plea agreement bars any future appeals, but a Presidential pardon from Barack Obama could be possible. Mizzou professors emeritus Kit Salter and Marvin Rogers are among group organizers investigating such legal options.

Finke and fellow organizer Liz Schmidt want large numbers of people to "show their support -- and continue shopping at World Harvest," Finke explained.