By Anna Merriman and Chelsea Miller
ELYRIA — At around 6 p.m. Thursday, a sign reading, “Closed temporarily” was taped to the door of former Shopway operator Mustafa Thaer’s second business venture, IMT Wireless.
Again, the reason for closing was related to alleged illegal activities at the store.
Around 4:20 p.m.Thursday, police executed a search warrant at IMT Wireless, 410 Broad St., and charged Thaer, 28, with counterfeiting, gambling, three counts of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. His employee, Ernest Anderson, 52, was charged with trafficking marijuana, two counts of drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia after the search.
Thaer opened IMT Wireless in July after Shopway Food Mart on Lake Avenue and Furnace Street was closed for illegal activity.
However, after receiving complaints about gambling and counterfeit clothing sales at IMT Wireless, police launched a month-long investigation into the store, according to Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino. During the search, police called the city Building Department for building code violations. The building has been closed until repairs are finished, according to a news release.
During the search, police found items associated with drugs and drug trafficking at the store, Costantino said. Police also searched two customers in the store and issued both men drug-related charges.
Damon Battles, 33, was issued an outstanding warrant for trafficking crack cocaine. Jeremy Gibson, 33, was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
This is the second time Thaer has been charged for illegal activity at one of his stores. A police raid of Shopway in April allegedly uncovered food stamp fraud and illegal drug sales. Thaer is facing charges of selling spice, a synthetic form of marijuana, at that business.
The case against Thaer and former Shopway employee Hesham Ayyad is going through the court system. Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi declared Shopway a nuisance in May, issuing a temporary restraining order against the business.
Since IMT Wireless’s opening, Thaer has been using Facebook to direct former Shopway customers to the new location and, despite complaints from some residents about Shopway, Thaer’s attorney said there was nothing prohibiting Thaer from opening a new business.
In August, Costantino said the department had received no complaints about IMT Wireless, and he said the only concern police had was that Thaer operate the business in a “lawful and respectful way.”
Thaer was being held at Lorain County Jail on $1 million dollar bond for the charges at IMT Wireless.
Anderson and Battles were being held at Lorain County Jail on $50,000 bonds.
Gibson was released on a personal summons.