WASHINGTON– A Detroit federal jury today returned a guilty verdict against Elsayed Kazem “Tom” Safiedine and Mary Fawaz, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.
The jury found Safiedine and Fawaz guilty of conspiring to defraud the United States by impeding and impairing the lawful functions of the IRS. Safiedine is an officer and member of multiple business entities that operate and lease gas stations in the Detroit area. Fawaz was an officer of one of Safiedine’s business entities and also served as a bookkeeper and office manager for several of Safiedine’s businesses.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from 1998 through 2001, Safiedine and Fawaz arranged for third parties to negotiate checks from Sunoco Incorporated made payable to JSC Corporation, a business operated by Safiedine. The checks from Sunoco Incorporated which totaled $845,000, were not properly reported to the accountant for JSC Corporation and as a result, were not included as income on JSC’s corporate tax returns filed with the IRS. Safiedine and Fawaz participated in the sale of a gas station owned by one of Safiedine’s businesses. The gas station sold for $875,000. Safiedine and Fawaz, however, told their accountant that the gas station sold for only $700,000, resulting in an understatement of $175,000 on the business’s income tax return.
Safiedine and Fawaz each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine up to $250,000. The court did not set a sentencing date.
Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and John A. DiCicco, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, Tax Division, noted the contribution of the IRS Special Agents who investigated this case, Tax Division Trial Attorneys Mark W. Kotila and Tiwana L. Wright, who prosecuted the case, and Paralegal Kimberly Better, who assisted.
More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at www.usdoj.gov/tax.