By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
During the three years since Mohamed Ibrahim's first appearance in the pages of New Times (“Loads of Dirty Laundry,”November 20, 1997), the man has been busy. In addition to running his Little Haiti laundromat and strip mall, Ibrahim last year opened a Montessori school and a second coin laundry in Miami Shores. He also continued to be the amazingly Teflonlike target of a flood of complaints and lawsuits from his many creditors, former business associates, and fraud victims.
Then this past September 22, one of the complaints stuck. Ibrahim pleaded no contest to the third-degree felony charge of grand theft. Judge Jerald Bagley declared Ibrahim guilty of stealing -- via a forged deed -- a strip of land in Little Haiti and ordered him to pay $13,250 restitution to the owner of the property. South Florida records show Ibrahim has two previous felony convictions, for bank fraud and writing bad checks. (A misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license is pending in Miami-Dade County.) Ibrahim's most recent conviction also raises questions about why City of Miami officials have allowed him to operate his businesses without fulfilling permit requirements.
In 1996 Ibrahim ran into a snag during the construction of his I Have a Dream Shopping Center at 279 NE 79th St. The mall didn't have enough parking places to receive a certificate of occupancy. There was parking space behind the mall, but access was blocked by a five-foot strip of land belonging to neighboring property-owner Monique Taylor. No problem. Ibrahim presented Miami officials with a deed showing the five feet of land to be his. Never mind that another deed had been on file for sixteen years, listing Taylor as the owner of that property.
In 1997 Taylor filed a civil lawsuit against Ibrahim. The State Attorney's Office opened an investigation in 1998, and in September 1999, Ibrahim was arrested and charged with grand theft. Even after the civil lawsuit was resolved in Taylor's favor and city building officials warned Ibrahim they were going to close part of his strip center, Assistant City Attorney Ana Maria Pando (now a county court judge) allowed him to continue operating without the necessary permits. “Now that he's been convicted again,” says prosecutor William J. Kostrzewski, “it would seem to me if he has no right to that property and can't get access to the back [parking], why are they letting him stay open?”