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Jury convicts Virginia man of ‘renting’ public sidewalks in D.C. to vendors

(Published February 26, 2001)

A 40-year-old Falls Church man faces possible life imprisonment and is being held without bond while he awaits sentencing, following his conviction Feb. 21 in D.C. Superior Court on nine felony counts related to defrauding and intimidating D.C. street vendors.

A Superior Court jury convicted Ghulam Mangal of extortion, three counts of first-degree fraud, two counts of threats, one count of assault with intent to commit extortion and two counts of obstruction of justice.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Fitzpatrick and Daniel P. Butler, who prosecuted Mangal, said he towed food vendors’ carts from a garage near Ninth and M streets NW to sidewalk spots from which vendors worked and rented carts to vendors.

Between 1997 and last March, prosecutors said Mangal claimed control of several vending spots on public sidewalks and "rented" them to vendors for up to $1,200 a month.

D.C. law allows vendors to occupy legitimate vending spots on public sidewalks for free.

Mangal was convicted of fraudulently obtaining about $50,000 in rental fees from three vendors. He controlled spots at 20th and Q streets NW and on 19th Street NW, near Dupont Circle, at 25th and M streets NW, 13th and F streets NW and near the Potomac Avenue Metro station in Southeast Washington.

Prosecutors said Mangal repeatedly threatened to kill one vendor when she stopped making "rent" payments in March 2000. Mangal was convicted of physically assaulting this vendor for remaining in "his" vending spot and he continued to directly and indirectly approach her after his arrest in May 2000 and after the vendor obtained a court order that he stay away from her.

Mangal is scheduled to be sentenced May 11 before D.C. Superior Court Judge Ann O’Regan Keary.

Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator