A Mesa tailor who admitted he tried to smuggle an Iranian across the U.S.-Mexico border was sentenced to five years’ probation Tuesday.
The sentencing doesn’t end the legal saga of Zeayadali Malhamdary, a Christian who escaped religious persecution in Iran and crossed the U.S.-Mexican border in 1998. He pleaded guilty to attempting to sneak across his brother-in-law.
The felony conviction leaves Malhamdary subject to removal from the United States and jail pending his immigration proceedings, according to court documents.
To fight deportation, Malhamdary hopes to use the United Nations Conventions Against Torture, a treaty that prevents people who may be harmed from returning to their country, court documents state.
He was granted refugee status in February 1999 and opened Palez Tailoring, a small shop at Baseline and Dobson roads.
The FBI arrested Malhamdary in May 2005 after an undercover Border Patrol agent and a confidential informant worked with him in obtaining counterfeit travel documents for three Iranians.
Malhamdary admitted to traveling to Iran in March 2005 to obtain authentic passports of three people and met later with the informant, who was to get fake Mexican visas so the Iranians could fly into Mexico.
In documents filed in U.S. District Court, Malhamdary said he first met the informant when his sister left Iran and wanted to sneak across the border.
The informant later called him and asked if he wanted to smuggle more people across.