We all knew it was coming. Someone was going to start a baby formula hustle and get caught, although this one pre-dates the current crisis by years – but is no less despicable.
A trio of offenders from the Miami area just got 18 years for their scheme. It was a long-running operation that began back in 2013, when Johnny Grobman, 48, Raoul Doekhie, 53, and his wife, Sherida Nabi, 57, started working together to hustle childcare products back to Doekhie’s home country of Suriname, which is located on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and a destination for lots of charity donations.
So what was the grand scheme?
At first, they used dummy shipments – the ol’ switcheroo – sending material not listed on the manifest to Suriname. Crates made of heavy plywood wrapped in barbed wire made an attentive trucker real suspicious, who then informed authorities that something was amiss. Then later, they would ship the actual product, only to immediately have it returned to the shipper. Finally, the third plot was to use false documentation saying it had been shipped, when in reality it was not.
What was the point of all three schemes? Well, according to Suriname local news site, De West, “Doekhie is the founder of a company named Tropical Investments and is politically connected in his homeland, specifically to his brother, a member of parliament, Rashied Doekhie.” More on him later. So it looks like they had someone in Suriname who could vouch for the need for the donations, then not ship the product to Suriname, giving the Miami crew discounts when ordering the products. They then resold the products in the U.S. at full price, generating quite a bit of profit. How much profit you ask?
From living in big houses to living in the “big house”…
The trio were first arrested in May 2019. After a 13-day trial in February 2020, they were found guilty of “wire fraud; money laundering; conspiring to obtain pre-retail medical products worth $5,000 or more by fraud or deception, theft of pre-retail medical products; and smuggling goods from the United States.” Grobman attempted to get a new trial in 2021, but was denied.
Their sentencing took place on April 25, 2022. The Court entered forfeiture money judgments: $87,187,374.83 against Grobman and $115,699,273.61 jointly against Doekhie and Nabi. Grobman was also ordered to surrender his home that he shared with his wife, a 6-bedroom mansion in Golden Beach, Florida. Doekhie and Nabi were ordered to surrender their 3-bedroom condo at Las Olas By The River.
Also involved in the scheme was Edgar Torres, 61, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He was listed as president of Le Mare Transport. Le Mare was a company that assisted in the scheme.
The Doekhie’s are known for being a little shady back home…
The Doekhie family is known for some controversies down in Suriname. Rashied Doekhie is a NDP parliamentarian. His brother, Raoul, is listed as Director and Founder of Tropical Investments, a sponsor of the NDP. Rashied was listed in a case in 2015 in which the Ministry of Justice and Police bought a property for SRD 3 million. That property was the parental home of Rashied, which Tropical Investments had previously purchased. Rashied was also involved with an ICT project back in 2015, which brought modern fiber optic internet to Suriname.