St. Louis Man Avoids Middle Eastern Prison

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)-- A St. Louis man facing weapons charges and the potential of decades in a Middle Eastern prison, is off the hook.  In a somewhat stunning, and rapid sequence of events, Steve Dolan found out Monday morning St. Louis time, that he was being cleared of all charges. 

“Not guilty,” he told friends and family in an email he sent from Dubai.  “I’m trying to get a handle on what has transpired the last 8 months and it is very difficult. I’ve gone from you signed a confession to your going to jail to not guilty in 3 weeks.”

The email was received by his brother, Brian, while sitting with another sibling in a St. Louis coffee shop. 

“It’s a huge relief! It just felt so good!” he said.  “Had to be what Jason Motte felt like winning the World Series last year, throwing that last pitch.  It was just awesome.  We wanted to get up and jump up and down, and I know the people around us thought we were crazy.”

The ordeal began for Steve Dolan eight months ago.  He is the vice president, running the Dubai office for APL shipping.  APL has about 200 such offices worldwide, shipping thousands of cargo containers daily.

One such container, going from Turkey to Africa, was passing through Dubai when inspectors discovered half the shipment was actually guns, not liquid soap as the shipping log indicated.  All weapons are illegal in Dubai.

Dolan was summoned by police, questioned, and eventually charged with weapons smuggling.  He was forced to sign a paper, written in Arabic, which turned out to be a confession.  That piece of evidence was later thrown out.

Dolan’s brother Brian believes media attention made a difference in a decision coming so fast, and in the Dolan’s favor.  The thought the court might take months do deliberate.

“Absolutely surprised that it was this quickly, but what Steve said in his email was, once the Fox report got out and got into the Dubai media, things began to happen in a hurry.”

Family members say neither Singapore based APL, nor the United States government were particularly helpful in handling the situation, though Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is credited with a late attempt to help.

Brian Dolan says it’s his own government that he’s most frustrated with in all this.

“When it ‘s your government, I mean we as taxpayers expect certain things out of our government, but then again when I look at it, we can’t even protect our ambassador in Libya.  How can I expect our government to go in for my brother, who’s just a businessman to them,” he said.  

St. Louisian Accused Of Weapons Smuggling In Dubai