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Bells Businessman Jailed, Could Be Deported

By Joe Sullivan
By jsullivan@wbbjtv.com

An owner of a popular Crockett County restaurant has been arrested by Homeland Security, and according to officials, could soon be deported back to Iran.

On Sunday, March 25 four vans pulled up to Olympic Steak House in Bells.

Officers jumped out, surrounded restaurant owner Lazaria Seveh, and took him away. He is now at an immigration detention center in Louisiana.

"He was happy as he could be. Everything was going well then he gets the biggest shock of his life. They pick him up and he didn't know anything until that afternoon what happened," said his brother, William Seveh.

According to his brother, last October Lazaria completed probation as part of pleading guilty to bank fraud involving The Bank of Alamo.

"He was arrested because he fit all of the elements that the government has in place for aliens.They say if you are an alien and have aggravated felony you are gonna be deported if you are not a United States citizen," friend Paul Jackson said.

Lazaria is Catholic. He came to the United States 19 years ago. His brother said he left because of religious persecution.

His Catholic Church has sent a document stating a return to Iran would be "equal to signing a death warrant of Lazaria."

"The fact that he has come from a Christian ethnicity and Catholic background who knows there is a possibility that if he is dropped off over a tarmac he may not ever be seen again," William Seveh said.

Paul Seratt is a Supply Sergeant at the Alamo National Guard. He is one of hundreds of friends who have signed a letter stating what a good man Lazaria is.

"Mr. Lazaria was always, 'It's not about the money, it's about taking care of soldiers in the unit. Doing what I can to help you all,'" Seratt said.

William Seveh talks to his brother every day on the phone.

"He is being held with thousands of detainees with severe charges that I know my brother is not a criminal. He served his time for what he was supposed to have served," William Seveh said.