NEW YORK – A man who came under intense scrutiny after he was arrested Sept. 12 with a box cutter and hair dye pleaded guilty Thursday to credit card fraud charges.
Syed Gul Mohammed Shah admitted selling 15 fraudulent credit cards for up to $2,000 a piece on the black market. He faces up to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 15.
Another man charged in the case, Mohammed Azmath, 37, pleaded guilty to related charges earlier this month.
Outside court Thursday, defense attorney Lawrence Feitell claimed Shah, 35, was falsely labeled a potential terrorist amid a roundup of Arab-looking men in the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Investigators later concluded Shah and Azmath were not linked to terrorism. But they charged them with credit card fraud.
Shah and Azmath boarded a plane in Newark, N.J., on Sept. 11 to go to San Antonio. They were stranded in St. Louis when their plane was grounded along with all other air traffic after the attacks.
The men then got on an Amtrak train to Texas, where they were arrested in Fort Worth after law enforcement authorities found two box cutters, hair dye, a knife and several thousand dollars among their belongings.
Lawyers for the men said they had just lost their newsstand jobs in New Jersey, where they used box cutters to slice open boxes and bundles of newspapers and magazines. The hair dye was to cover graying hair, and the men had the money because they were going to San Antonio seeking work, lawyers said.