updated 8/19/2006 3:43:47 PM ET 2006-08-19T19:43:47

A former grocery store owner already facing three years in prison for aiding a terrorist group got 14 months tacked onto his sentence Friday for swindling the food stamp program out of $1.4 million.

Hatem Fariz, 33, must serve a total of 51 months in federal prison under the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur.

Fariz, who now lives in Spring Hill, Fla., also was ordered to repay the money he siphoned off by swapping cash for food stamps at the Chicago grocery store he once owned.

"I will serve my time quietly and productively and I just want to get this behind me and go on with my life," Fariz said.

Fariz pleaded guilty in June to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in connection with the bogus food stamp transactions.

Fariz also pleaded guilty in a federal court in Tampa to conspiring to provide financial aid to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.

Fariz received a 37-month sentence on the Florida charge.

Shadur imposed the 51-month sentence, to run concurrent with Fariz's Florida time, saying it was the least he should have gotten if the two cases had been lumped together and placed before one judge for sentencing.

Fariz was a defendant in a major terrorism financing trial in Tampa that ended in December with a stinging defeat for the federal government.

The lead defendant was University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian. Prosecutors said he was a key supporter of the Jihad group in a campaign of murder and terror aimed at the Israeli government.

Al-Arian was acquitted of eight of the 17 counts against him. The jury deadlocked on the others. Two co-defendants were acquitted on all charges.

Fariz, also a co-defendant, was acquitted of 25 counts and the jury deadlocked on eight others.

Rather than face another trial, Fariz made a deal with the government. He pleaded guilty to one charge in the Florida case and the seven others were dropped. Shadur told him to surrender to start his sentence Oct. 3.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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