LYNNWOOD — After the grandson of a Hamas founder converted to Christianity and came out as gay in Canada, he went on CNN saying he feared deportation, claiming he would face “certain death.”
Now in the latest chapter of his strange journey, he’s in the Snohomish County Jail, accused of signing a bad check for $10,995 to pay for a nose job.
Jnaid Salama, 30, aka John D. Calvin, told an employee at a Lynnwood plastic surgery clinic he wanted the rhinoplasty procedure “as soon as possible,” preferably in the next 30 days, according to police reports filed in court. When the employee informed Salama he would have to prepay for the expedited service, he replied that wouldn’t be a problem.
Two days later, he returned with a cashier’s check, court papers say. Later, the check bounced. When contacted, Salama reportedly said the problem must have been with the clinic’s bank, because he was good on his end.
A fraud investigator with Salama’s supposed bank had other news: Salama was never authorized to issue a check, and he allegedly was behind other forgeries involving the bank.
Lynnwood police booked the Bellevue resident into the Snohomish County Jail on Jan. 22, for investigation of forgery and first-degree theft.
During the investigation, officers discovered Salama staged an international media tour years ago.
In those appearances, he went by John Calvin, and he was living in Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, Canada.
He told CNNMoney in June 2015 that he had fled to Canada and applied for refugee status. But the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board reportedly denied that status, alleging that Salama was a contributing member of Hamas.
Salama explained to a CNNMoney reporter that his grandfather was a co-founder of Hamas, a militant Islamic fundamentalist group that the U.S. government views as a terrorist organization. But Salama said he had renounced the group, and worried he would be subject to potentially fatal punishment if he returned.
Salama’s father appeared to corroborate those concerns in an interview with CNNMoney.
“What he did is offensive to honor and to religion,” Jehad Salameh told a reporter at the time. “And the family has the right to retaliate against him.”
In an attempt to stay in Canada, Salama created a GoFundMe that raised $2,600, and launched a change.org petition that drew 6,500 supporters.
In May 2016, Salama told Vice News he escaped to the U.S., where the Massachusetts immigration court allowed him to stay.
He shared his future plans with a Vice News reporter: He’d find an apartment, see about going to school at New York University and get “very long and expensive therapy.”
Salama also said he owed tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
“I’ve literally been to hell and back, so it’s going to take a while for me to rebuild my life,” he told the reporter.
Somewhere along the way, he got caught up in a series of fraud schemes.
In April 2018, he reportedly went on a spending spree at a Bloomingdale’s department store in Chicago. In a civil lawsuit in federal court, the company alleged Salama used bogus checks to buy jewelry and accessories worth more than $100,000.
He immediately returned most of what he bought and used store credit to buy another set of extravagant items, including four watches, two rings worth $10,000 each, a $15,000 diamond bracelet and a $40,000 diamond necklace.
Salama was accused of a similar theft in Louisiana in August 2018. There, he used a fraudulent check to buy more than $45,000-worth of valuables, including a diamond engagement ring, a Rolex watch and a set of cufflinks, according to a sheriff’s report in Jefferson Parish.
Arguing for bail at a Snohomish County court hearing, a deputy prosecutor expressed concern about the Louisiana warrant, and that Salama was trying to change his appearance — with uncertain motives.
Everett District Court Judge Anthony Howard set bail at $25,000. Salama remained in jail Friday. He was scheduled to appear in court Feb. 26, for a warrant hearing in the Louisiana case.
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; email@example.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.
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