Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but a greasy Lebanese business owner from Brockton did something shady at one of his soon to be opened businesses in Middleborough.
MIDDLEBOROUGH — Police Chief Joseph Perkins reports that after a two-week investigation into possible predatory business practices, the Middleborough Police Department has arrested and charged a Brockton man who was in the process of opening a coffee shop in Middleborough after he allegedly assaulted an intellectually disabled man in his employ. CHARLES G. EL-HELOU, AGE 53, OF BROCKTON was charged with one count of Assault and Battery on a Person with an Intellectual Disability (Felony).
On Thursday, June 20, Middleborough detectives spoke with an Assonet woman who reported that her 25-year-old son had allegedly been assaulted by EL-HELOU. The woman’s son had started working as a painter and laborer in late May at the not-yet opened Hugs & Yums coffee lounge, which is owned by EL-HELOU. According to the report, on May 31, the suspect allegedly tried to get the man to sign his vehicle’s title over to him by promising to buy the man a new truck from a dealership. The man refused and later reported the interaction to his mother.
A few days later, during a June 3 event at the Center Street business, the employee allegedly told EL-HELOU that he could not come to work the next day because his vehicle was being repaired. At that time, EL-HELOU allegedly claimed the vehicle belonged to him and grabbed the man by the neck and made a growling sound before releasing him. The victim continued to work at the business until June 14, but was never paid for any of his labor, despite filling out a W2 and other employment forms. The victim’s uncle accompanied him to the business on June 14 to collect his tools, and after a conversation with the uncle, EL-HELOU allegedly gave the victim a quantity of cash.
Middleborough Police Detectives made a report and filed for an arrest warrant at Wareham District Court, which was authorized by a magistrate on Friday. EL-HELOU was arrested late Friday afternoon without incident. EL-HELOU is known to police.
“In this instance, we allege that the suspect withheld compensation and assaulted his intellectually disabled employee while trying to force him to sign over the title to his motor vehicle,” Chief Perkins said. “This is a disturbing and unfortunate situation, in which we believe vulnerable citizens were being taken advantage of, and we urge all of our residents and families to be vigilant.”
The investigation remains active and ongoing by Middleborough Police Detectives, and additional charges may be added. The case has also been reported to the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and a report will be filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office on Monday. EL-HELOU was ordered held on $500 bail pending arraignment Monday in Wareham District Court.
There’s scummy, and there’s the people who physically assault mentally disabled people after trying to con them out of their cars with promises of imaginary free trucks if they do so, and then never pay them for their labor.
Most would probably try to lay low after being publicly shamed for being such scum. Not Billy Baklava though. He went onto the MPD’s Facebook page and repeatedly tried in vain to prove he was innocent by copying and pasting some sentences he threw together in broken English.
Just so we’re clear here, his story is that he’s innocent because he was preparing to have a hiring event on June 3, therefore he couldn’t have possibly assaulted a mentally disabled person on June 3 because it would look bad. Also, the walls were not painted, which he had hired the mentally disabled man to do (and never paid him), therefore it’s OK if he assaulted him.
He copy and pasted this close to a dozen times, using his business account nonetheless, because he truly believed people would see it and realize that he wasn’t like the shady Lebanese dudes who give me a pass for my car inspection no matter what as long as I pay in cash.
Shockingly his PR campaign didn’t go as planned. Some started digging and found out that he didn’t have a license or permit after calling town hall.
A mother whose son was not yet 16 asked if he needed a work permit (he does) and Cocaine Charlie said it wasn’t necessary (spoiler alert – it is).
Another woman said she applied for one of the jobs, but was told that this particular job didn’t come with any money.
Which is weird, because traditionally jobs pay money. He also allegedly told her that “those people” don’t get paid. Because his business has been using this whole “we hire mentally disabled people” as a way to get free press and look like they’re not terrible people.
She mentioned his other businesses, and indeed he’s opened many over the years.
The Brockton Enterprise has been portraying him as some sort of legitimate businessman.
And it looks like he does quite well for himself.
His most recent Facebook post is him humble bragging about all the great local press his latest business venture has been getting.
This includes a recent post from the Middleborough Town Manager, showing off the newest business opening in town.
Funny, because now the Town Manager is sharing the MPD post while acting like he wasn’t just pimping out a criminal who abuses mentally disabled people.
It’s noteworthy that he received glowing reviews by the Middleborough BOS at his last review.
Billy Baklava did his copy and paste dindu nuffin there too.
It also includes a puff piece from Fun 107, praising him for hiring mentally disabled people (who he refers to as “those people” and doesn’t pay).
There was one person defending him in the comments while blaming the victim for allegedly not doing the job he was hired to do (without being paid) – Al Gillespie.
This is Al.
I don’t want to presume anything, but it appears as if Al might be loyal to Charlie because he doesn’t know any better. Almost as if Charlie preys on people like this. No one believed poor Al either.
One of the pictures that Cocaine Charlie posted was a message that his business got from someone praising them for hiring people with disabilities.
It’s redacted who the admin was that received that message, but it appears to be a woman named Sarah. This Sarah:
“Former Lebanese Cultural Ambassador” Sarah Kanso. The “General Manager” of a nonprofit called Sparks of Hope which claims to be a registered 501c3 in Massachusetts and California and does a lot of stuff for people with “special abilities and cancer,” as well as teaching immigrants English and helping them with immigration forms.
Sarah shared this personal message she got on her Facebook page, stating that Sparks of Hope is “running” Cocaine Charlie’s coffee shop in Middleborough.
In other words, they’re using the front of a nonprofit to run a business. That’s why he told the woman who applied for the job that he had to wait for the grants to come through before paying her money. They’re trying to get gullible people to donate to their “charity” so they can cut down on operating costs. It’s also why he never paid the mentally disabled guy he hired to paint for him.
Editor’s Note: Earlier version of this blog stated that there is no nonprofit called Sparks of Hope in Massachusetts. And although this is correct, there is a nonprofit owned by El Helou called Spark of Hope, which only makes this shadier. The guy owns a nonprofit, collects grant money by purporting to help disabled people, but then uses that money to pay disabled people to work for him so that he can profit and reduce his operating costs.
Sarah was just at a Facebook conference last week in Boston called “Boost your cause.”
In other words, she was there to learn how to use the world’s largest social media platform as a way to con more people with a charity that is a front for a business.
She also claims they’re a nonprofit but not a 501c3 because their “lawyers” are working on that. Yet she earlier claimed that they were a 501c3 since 2001.
It’s almost as if these people are professional con-artists who prey on the most vulnerable amongst us, don’t pay them for labor, try to steal their vehicles, assault them when that doesn’t work, smear them after getting caught, use the press to their advantage, and fool stupid town managers who don’t bother using Google.
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