WASHINGTON – Mohammad Jafar Nikbakht, aka Freydoon Nikbakht, pleaded guilty to tax evasion before U.S. District Court Judge John A. Houston in San Diego, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. According to the indictment and other documents filed with the court, Nikbakht ran a series of lucrative auto dealerships in the greater San Diego area. Between 1998 and 2007, Nikbakht significantly under-reported income earned from these businesses. The government claims that Nikbakht defrauded the U.S. Treasury of more than $400,000 in income tax revenue through the course of these years.
According to indictment and other documents filed with the court, Nikbakht pleaded guilty to tax evasion for the year 2007. Nikbakht admitted that during that year he earned income through auto dealership operations, including through a dealership called Southern California Car Exchange. Nikbakht further admitted that he willfully failed to file his personal tax return and pay his taxes, and that he engaged in various acts to conceal income from the IRS. For example, Nikbakht admitted that he ran an auto wholesale operation under another dealer’s license and that he instructed the other dealer to write his income payment checks to the order of a third-party or to “cash”.
The government contends that even at his plea hearing, Nikbakht only admitted to a fraction of his misconduct. Additional evidence concerning Nikbakht’s 2007 tax evasion and his alleged tax crimes for prior years as well as allegations that Nikbakht obstructed justice in the tax investigation, will be presented before Judge Houston at a preliminary sentencing hearing scheduled for April 12, 2011.
Nikbakht faces up to five years in prison. In addition, the government is seeking a fine of at least $250,000 and an order requiring Nikbakht to pay full restitution to the IRS as well as the costs of his prosecution.
More information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at www.usdoj.gov/tax/.