Pizza Franchise Owner and Four Others Indicted for Tax Fraud
|U.S. Department of Justice July 16, 2013|
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department announced today that Happy Asker, franchise owner of multiple Happy’s Pizza franchises, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit along with Maher Bashi, Tom Yaldo, Arkan Summa, and Tagrid Bashi for multiple tax offenses arising from a conspiracy to underreport taxable income and payroll taxes of nine Happy’s Pizza franchises. All defendants with the exception of Happy Asker were arrested.
A multiple-count indictment was unsealed in the Eastern District of Michigan charging Happy Asker, Maher Bashi, and Tom Yaldo with conspiracy to defraud the United States by keeping fraudulent accounting records and falsely reporting income taxes and payroll taxes due and owing.
The indictment alleges that from approximately June 2004 through April 2011, the defendants conspired with each other to divert business receipts, underreport wages, and understate the true income and expenses of specified Happy’s Pizza franchises. According to the indictment, the scheme resulted in the specified franchises paying more than $2.1 million in unreported wages to employees and shareholders.
Additional charges in the indictment include three counts of filing a false individual income tax return as to Happy Asker; 21 counts of aiding in the filing of false payroll tax returns as to Happy Asker and Maher Bashi; 23 counts of aiding in the filing of false payroll tax returns as to Tom Yaldo on behalf of specified Happy’s Pizza franchises; and 11 counts as to Happy Asker and Maher Bashi for aiding in filing false corporate tax returns on behalf of specified Happy’s Pizza franchises.
Finally, the indictment also charges Happy Asker and Maher Bashi with one count of obstructing the due administration of the internal revenue laws. Arkan Summa and Tagrid Bashi are also charged together in a count of obstructing the due administration of the internal revenue laws and Tom Yaldo is also charged with one count of obstructing the due administration of the internal revenue laws.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges of filing a false income tax return and aiding or assisting in filing a false return carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count. The obstruction charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count.
This case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FBI and is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Corey Smith and Trial Attorney Mark McDonald of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.