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Service-station owner sentenced in fraud scheme

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A local service-station owner has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in an extortion scheme involving the illegal sales of vehicle safety inspection licenses and equipment. Simon Abou Raad, 51, who owned service stations in Tewksbury and Tyngsborough, was also sentenced last week to two years of supervised release, fined $10,000, and ordered to return $360,000 in illegal proceeds from the scheme, according to federal authorities. Abou Raad and his codefendant, Mark LaFrance, a project manager at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, would buy inspection licenses and equipment from service stations at double their regular cost, then resell them to stations on the state’s waiting list for up to 10 times what they paid, while arranging paperwork to cover up the fraudulent transactions, authorities said.

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