Editor’s Note: We discussed this story on the Live Show (1:10:50)
This is Asmar Akman from Worcester.
He’s the owner of a pawn shop in Worcester called Pleasant Street Pawn Shop. For those of you unfamiliar with Worcester, Pleasant Street is the longest street in the city, and although it’s pleasant the further away from Worcester you get, it’s quite unpleasant at the beginning where his shop is located. In fact, it’s crime ridden, filthy and disgusting, which is how you know that it’s in City Councillor Sarai Rivera’s district.
Earlier this week Asmar was arrested and charged with trafficking firearms and receiving stolen property as the result of a joint investigation between the Worcester Police and Pinella’s County Florida Sheriff’s Office. (Pinella’s County is on the Gulf side of Florida, and includes St. Petersburg and other hard hit areas of the recent hurricane.)
The only place you can read about this is on the WPD’s Facebook page, or the City of Worcester’s website. This seems odd as Akman has received a plethora of positive news coverage from the media, and is well connected with influential politicians and police in Massachusetts, particularly in the Worcester area. Last year Masslive published a puff piece about how Akman was “building his reputation” in Worcester by making custom jewelry for Worcester born and raised rap star Joyner Lucas, NFL players, and other celebrities.
The story talks about how the Hofstra grad left a career as a bridge officer for Carnival Cruise in 2005 to open his own pawnshop, because he believed they were getting a bad name due to slimy owners. He claims he was initially inclined to go into banking, but was urged to pursue pawnshops by his mentor Barry Krock, the President of Commerce Bank who owns a lot of land in Worcester that have become undeveloped eyesores where junkies go to get high. From there the article mostly glorifies his relationship with Joyner Lucas, the Gronkowski family, and Houston Texans cornerback Isaac Yiadom, a 2014 Doherty grad. They are featured prominently on his Instagram, and Lucas shot a rap video from there in 2017.
Normally the owner of a pawnshop in the hood wouldn’t be the kind of business owner that powerful people would want to associate with, but with Asmar Akman it’s quite the opposite. In 2017 the Worcester Business Journal named him to their Top 40 Under 40 – a pretentious list of politically connected boobs who get to play dress up and pose for pictures as they congratulate themselves on overcoming mediocrity.
Akman donates thousands of dollars to politicians in the Worcester area, including Sheriff Lew Evangelidis, District Attorney Joe Early, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, State Senator Michael Moore, City Councillor and City Councillor Donna Colorio.
All of those politicians are either Republicans, or Democrats who are known to support law enforcement. No SJWs or radical liberals on the list. These are exactly the kind of people you’d want in your corner if you were a criminal attempting to pass off as a well respected citizen.
Much like Monica Cannon-Grant in Boston, Akman was the kind of person that politicians wanted to associate with. He hosted a fundraiser for City Councillor Kate Toomey in the canal district, which he posted about on Instagram.
He hosted a fundraiser for disgraced District Attorney Joe Early in 2019, who we exposed in 2017 for ordering the State Police to redact information from the arrest report of Judge Tim Bibaud’s daughter after she crashed her car in Holden while high on heroin. The 3 highest ranking members of the State Police resigned as a result of the scandal we broke, and although Early was urged to resign by the Telegram and Gazette, he ran for re-election in 2018 and easily defeated his Independent opponent. At the event Akman said, “thank God he got re-elected,” and praised Early for being “fair and just.”
At any point Early’s office could’ve investigated Akman, but when you’re a financial contributor who hosts fundraisers for the DA you get special consideration.
Last year he hosted multiple fundraisers that Sheriff Lew Evangelidis asked him to organize, where were attended by Governor Baker.
“We really appreciate everything you guys do.”
Particularly he appreciates the Sheriff ignoring the fact that he was selling stolen jewelry and trafficking guns out of his pawn shop in a high crime Worcester neighborhood. Evangelidis, Baker, and Polito are featured prominently on his social media.
His sister also happens to be married to a corrections officer who works at the jail, which Evangelidis oversees.
It’s nice to have the Sheriff in your back pocket.
If you couldn’t tell Asmar Akman was shady from a mile away then you shouldn’t be allowed to operate a car without a helmet on. They all knew and looked the other way. According to a detective we spoke with from another police department outside of Worcester, who went to Pleasant Pawnshop frequently to investigate reports of stolen property, his shop was notorious for having Worcester Police officers in it.
“He definitely was giving people kick backs. Every time I went in there Worcester cops were hanging out with him. It was so strange.”
His Facebook and Instagram accounts are filled with “back the blue” stuff, and he donated heavily to pro-law enforcement politicians, so of course they looked the other way.
It’s unclear what triggered this investigation, or if he was selling looted property from the hurricane. But Akman made no attempt to hide his wealth. His Instagram is one of the most ridiculously ghettofabulous collection of pictures and videos you will ever see, showing millions of dollars worth of jewelry, videos of his Porsche that he records himself driving to work in, stacks of $100 bills, and periodically pictures of his wife and children so he can pass himself off as a legitimate family man. And he always rocks his ridiculous looking diamond and gold chain worth $250K.
He has pictures of Instagram whores with 12 million followers wearing transparent outfits made out of jewelry that slightly cover up their gargantuan Gerber servers.
Here’s a video he posted of a 12 year old boy named Will, who for some reason has $500 in disposable income and parents who bring him to a pawn shop in the hood to buy bling with it.
He recently posted a video at Chris Ruth’s giving his wife a 5 karat diamond ring.
He clearly was courting a certain crowd, which is why he opened his pawn shop in lower Pleasant Street and sold grills, and golden guns.
In case it’s not blatantly obvious by now, he most likely sells unregistered guns to bad people. I’m not saying these guys are gang bangers or drug dealers, but something tells me they don’t work in finance.
But yet he evaded law enforcement’s radar while operating right under their noses.
He did this while he was using his pawnshop to enrich himself and put illegal guns on the streets. During that time he was also being deputized by Sheriff Lew as a “deputy sheriff.” It doesn’t mean much, but basically you just give Evangelidis money and you get to call yourself a deputy.
It’s mostly a status symbol, as you get to be listed on the Sheriff’s website as a supporter with the other attorneys and politicians.
There are some stipulations – reserve deputies must be in a high position in the community, must be an “asset” to the Sheriff, and must have “good moral character,” which apparently does not preclude gun traffickers.
Akman is also listed on the state’s website as being a UMass Medical School Police Officer, collecting a modest salary of $40K.
Akman appeared to admire police, but he also pretended to be one. He received an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice, and the Town of Oakham has him listed on their website as a reserve officer.
Five years ago we published a series of blogs about Kevin Perry, who was arrested for trafficking fentanyl in Worcester. Prior to that Perry was also a well-respected businessman, despite making it blatantly obvious that he was laundering drug money by buying up property and opening restaurants in the city. Likewise, Akman has acquired a lot of property in recent years. He purchased a gorgeous condo in Shrewsbury where he appears to reside now, he owns a house near the Holden town line in Worcester, commercial property in Tatnuck Square, another house on Franklin Street, and a recently purchased another condo in Tatnuck Square (the pleasant part of Pleasant Street).
In January of 2021 Akman was featured in another puff piece in Worcester Magazine. He bragged about his rags to riches story, and how he got to where he is by being such a good and decent person.
Consequently, demand has caused Akman to increase his gold prices. Still, while that bolstered his business, When I opened my store in 2005 I had no inventory, nothing but a sign and a smile.” Akman shared. “I didn’t see profit until probably the seventh year. I didn’t have a car the first five years, I shared a car with my wife. It was very interesting. You sacrifice if you have a dream. It was drive, devotion, and a lot of customer service.
Stay honest, be straightforward, and don’t ever exaggerate what you can promise. Credibility is everything.
Akman says it’s important to meet his customers with hospitality and empathy.
The article also talked about how he was one of the rare business owners who benefitted from the pandemic because people wanted to spend their stimulus checks on gold:
That stress has brought many to the pawn shop, but not for the reasons Akman thought they would. When the pandemic hit, Akman predicted there would be a jump in people seeking loans, not gold or diamonds, but surprisingly that was not the case. After the first round of stimulus had been sent out, customers came in looking to invest in items of long-term value over pawning for immediate cash. “When the stimulus checks were distributed, we saw very few loans given out, and contrary, there was a big spike in gold and jewelry sales,” Akman said. As the economy hits troubled times, such as giving out a lot of stimulus money, the value of the dollar goes down and the price of gold is driven up, it’s basic economics.
But despite admitting in January of 2021 that he was making more money as a result of the pandemic and infusion of stimulus checks, Akman applied for and received $32,500 in PPP “loans,” which he never had to repay.
He did this while driving a Porsche and wearing a s $250K solid gold chain chain with 250 karats of diamonds in it.
Never forget – our government shut down our schools and a $20 trillion economy, then gave money to everyone so they could blow it on jewelry while giving more money away with no strings attached to wealthy gun traffickers who were already benefitting from the pandemic. This was all done for your health, but you can totally trust them when they force your children to put an experimental vaccine into their bodies to protect them from a virus that presents no threat to them.
Akman had been doing this for years right under the noses of law enforcement officials, whose pockets he was greasing. But they only suddenly had an interest in him now because the Sheriff’s Office in Pinnella County, FL began to look into him. The question is, what was Akman’s connection to southwest Florida?
As it turns out Akman’s other sister Helen lives in Clearwater, FL, and is married to a man named James Dowler.
Dowler owns a business called Survival Fittest Pistol Courses, and Akman visited him regularly.
Akman is also the godfather to Dowler’s son.
When Dowler visits Massachusetts he often posts pictures on his Instagram account, including images of Akman’s Porsche at his Shrewsbury condo, and wearing $63K chains at the pawn shop.
Clearly he’s enjoying the materialism and wealth that his brother in law flaunts. It’s unclear if there is a connection between Dowler and the gun trafficking, but it would be a huge coincidence for police in the same town that Akman’s gun toting brother in law lives in to randomly come after a pawnshop owner in Worcester.
On the Worcester Police Department’s Facebook post announcing the arrest of Akman, a woman named Christine Rivera alleged that her son, who recently passed after a battle with drug addiction, was paid by Akman to steal from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart. She claims that she reported this to Worcester Police who did nothing.
Indeed there are hundreds of pictures of Akman selling leaf blowers, generators, televisions, DVDs, and other never been used before items right out of the box. He would even post screenshots form Home Depot’s website to show it was cheaper in his small shop, which should’ve been a huge red flag to law enforcement.
Pawn shops are supposed to be strictly regulated and monitored, and any items that are stolen must immediately be reported to police. Akman said that he wanted to own a pawnshop because he didn’t like how they were labeled as slimy. He then became the slimiest of them all by knowingly selling stolen items, jewelry, and illegal guns. He recruited and paid drug addicts to steal all of this for him. But when you have the cops in your back pocket, and you’re raising money for the Sheriff and DA, these aren’t things you have to worry about.
If this allegation is true (which it certainly appears to be) it would mean that Akman was giving money to people he knew were addicts, which put money into the hands of fentanyl dealers. He targeted drug addicts because he knew they were desperate for cash and would rob stores for him. As a result Christine Vega’s son Alexio was able to buy drugs that would eventually kill him, while she fights a losing battle with cancer.
Alexio’s addiction was funded by Asmar Akban, who got rich off of his losing battle with mental health.
But just like Monica people in the community will have his back. On the WPD’s page there are mostly supportive comments from people who believe that he is an upstanding member of the community.
But the friendly personality is all part of the con. He’s Worcester’s version of Gustavo Fring. He sought out professional relationships with the law enforcement community, established himself as a legitimate business owner, was showered with awards and positive media coverage, and no one cared how he was making millions of dollars at a pawnshop in the ghetto. He made himself the kind of public figure that you couldn’t possibly imagine was a running a multi-million dollar criminal organization because he smiled, posted pictures with the governor and sheriff, and posted pictures of his nice looking family on his business page.
But in reality he was poisoning our community by funding the sale of deadly drugs, increasing crime rates by putting guns on our streets, and hurting other businesses by recruiting addicts to steal from them. His case should not be allowed to be tried in Worcester County, since he has an obvious conflict with the notoriously corrupt DA. Luckily in Florida they seem to take law and order seriously, so hopefully justice will be served.