83.2 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


Oct. 22, 2002 – A federal grand jury indicted a well-known St. Croix physician on Tuesday on charges of fraud related to his conspiring over the last eight years to use fraudulent immigration documents as a means of amassing a harem of five wives.
Police were led to the home in La Grande Princesse of Dr. Kareem Abdulghani in July, when the Women's Coalition of St. Croix reported that an assault and threats had occurred on the premises, according to a federal criminal complaint.
The complaint names Abdulghani, a general practitioner who has resided on St. Croix for more than 20 years and has given health advice on local radio talk shows, as the ringleader in the conspiracy. It charges that he had his two sons and another man engage in fake marriages to foreign women and bring them to the United States, where they would live as his wives under Islamic law. According to authorities, Abdulghani is a U.S. citizen.
The situation came to public attention when one of the women, Jumanti Sungke, reported being assaulted and told authorities that several foreign nationals were living in the doctor's house. When police took her to the home pick up some personal possessions, another of Abdulghani's wives, Intan Sumartopo, approached the officers and said she also wanted to leave, along with her children.
In subsequent interviews, the two women said Abdulghani is the father of their children.
Sungke said she was married to the doctor under Islamic law over the telephone in March 1994 while living in Indonesia. She came to the United States later that year on a student visa but never attended any classes. So that she would be able to remain in the country, a man identified as Zakee Abdurrasheed submitted falsified documents to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service stating that he had married Sungke and is the father of her children.
Sumartopo is also Indonesian and under Islamic and Indonesian law is married to Abdulghani.
His other wives are:
– Hasnida Kusaini, who is married to Abdulghani's son Usama Abdulghani but lives with the doctor as his wife and bore his child. Usama Abdulghani is reportedly in Iran with his Islamic wife.
– Shokran Akaris, who is engaged to marry another son, Ghazi Abdulghani.
– Samira Abdulghani, a U.S. citizen formerly known as Patricia Abdulghani, who was formerly married under U.S. law to the doctor. They are legally divorced but remain married under Islamic law, and she and her six children by Kareem Abdulghani live in the La Grande Princesse home.
According to INS Special Agent David Levering, Sungke and Sumartopo stated in interviews that the doctor lived in the main house with them and two other wives and slept with each of them on a regular basis. When law-enforcement officers searched the house, they found that Kareem Abdulghani kept his clothing items in all of the women's rooms and that Ghazi Abdulghani and other men were living in a downstairs apartment where no women's clothing was found.
Akaris arrived on St. Croix last April and spent a lot of time with the doctor, the women told Levering. In an affidavit filed in District Court, the INS agent said Sumartopo and Sungke told authorities "that they and the other wives were jealous" because Kareem Abdulghani and Akaris were spending so much intimate time together and he "was forsaking his other wives' needs."
Levering also said that Sumartopo told him the doctor began making trips to the Middle East in 2000 and that on one of those occasions he married three women under Islamic law, one of them being Akaris.
Kareem Abdulghani is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Azekah Jennings said a third-degree assault charge was added on Tuesday, stemming from a July 9 incident in which the doctor is alleged to have assaulted Sungke with a sharp object.
The doctor posted $20,000 bail after his arrest but by court order is confined to his home and under electronic surveillance. Also on bail but confined to home are Ghazi Abdulghani and Abdurrasheed, who was recently added as a defendant in the fraud charges.
Akaris and Kusaini are in police custody at an undisclosed location and face similar charges. Because they are not U.S. citizens, they are considered flight risks.
Jennings said the conspiracy charges carry a statutory penalty of five years in federal prison. The local assault charges Kareem Abdulghani is facing carry a five-year jail term.
Jennings said an arraignment date has yet to be set.
Mary Mingus, co-director of the Women's Coalition, said the organization is "working very closely" with the family. She said she could reveal little information about the case, except to say that the women are victims of domestic violence.
"In my opinion, any woman married to a man with four other wives is a victim of domestic violence," Mingus said.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.