by John Darer® CLU ChFC MSSC RSP CLTC
A new reason to question the wisdom of handing an 18 year old a large lump sum of cash at a time when they may be easily influenced, often.inexperienced and financially immature.
Mohamed Roble was due to receive a lump sum payment (from a structured settlement) of $65,431.22 on his 18th birthday - roughly a month and a half before federal prosecutors say he
left the U.S. for Istanbul, Turkey en route to Syria, according to an AP Report. The structured settlement, approved in 2009 was created as part of a $53,500 settlement from the state of Minnesota and was compensation for damages for personal physical injuries Roble sustained as an 11 year old school boy in a bus in the I-35W Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007.
Testimony in a Federal court trial of three men accused of conspiring to travel to Syria to join Isis,. has suggested that at least some of the men in the group knew Roble had money and asked him to fund their own trips. One man believed Roble had gone to Syria with thousands of dollars and used it to pay for weddings for fighters and cars.
The bridge collapse was not mentioned during the trial. The Associated Press made the connection using state court records to trace the bridge collapse victim to a Minneapolis high school, then matched the victim's yearbook picture to a photo the government has provided of the young man believed to be in Syria. A handful of people who knew the family also confirmed the match.
According to evidence presented in federal court last week, Roble flew to Istanbul in October 2014 as part of an itinerary that included a trip to China. He was due to return to the U.S. in June 2015, but never did, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Officer Joel Pajak testified.
"We received information that Mr. Roble ended up in Syria with his uncle, Abdi Nur," Pajak testified.
Little has been revealed about Roble, but testimony suggests at least some of the men knew he had money. One witness, FBI informant Abdirahman Bashir, testified that in the fall of 2014 some group members asked Roble if he could finance their own trips.
"We all knew that he had money, and we were asking him if he could give us some money for travel and he said yes," Bashir testified. Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter, Bashir added that Roble "had a lot of money from an accident before, and got a settlement."
"Some kind of insurance settlement?" Winter asked.
"Yes," Bashir said.
It isn't clear whether Roble actually funded trips for potential travelers, and evidence so far suggests he did not. Bashir's testimony showed the men struggled to find ways to finance their own travel.
But in one secretly recorded conversation played for jurors, defendant Guled Omar told Bashir that Roble took thousands of dollars to Syria and was passing out money like "candy." In that conversation, Omar said Roble used the money in Syria to finance weddings and cars for fighters.
One of the obvious questions is how all these influencers knew Roble had a settlement. One of the biggest mistakes a settlement recipient can make is to blab about their settlement.