Husband and Wife Plead Guilty to False Statement to an Agency of the United States, Tax Evasion, and Bankruptcy Fraud
DETROIT - A Dearborn, Michigan husband and wife were arraigned yesterday on charges of false statement to an agency of the United States, tax evasion, and bankruptcy fraud, U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today. On the same day, both individuals pleaded guilty before Judge Laurie J. Michelson.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Sarah Kull, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Joshua Hauxhurst, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Salvador Gonzalez.
Abraham Elsaghir, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of false statement to an agency of the United States, one count of federal income tax evasion, and one count of bankruptcy fraud. Samar Elsaghir, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of false statement to an agency of the United States and one count of federal income tax evasion.
According to the information and the plea agreements, in May 2017, Abraham and Samar Elsaghir filed a voluntary Chapter 7 petition in bankruptcy, and they received a discharge of their debts in August 2017. As the plea agreement acknowledges, however, the Elsaghirs made false declarations in their bankruptcy petition, by both failing to report and underreporting their income. During the same time period, the Elsaghirs made similar false statements to both the I.R.S. on their 2016 tax return and to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in order to receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as food stamps. In the plea agreements, the Elsaghirs agreed that, from 2014-2020, they had received nearly $60,000 in SNAP benefits they were not entitled to receive, and that they, in fact, owed the I.R.S. an additional $70,000 for tax calendar years 2014-2018. Abraham Elsaghir also agreed he owed and to pay over $166,000 to unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy case.
“We have seen an unprecedented number of people commit fraud on government programs. This case involved multiples layers of deception – lying to the bankruptcy court, the I.R.S., and the U.S.D.A. This conduct will not be tolerated, and individuals who make false statements to exploit resources intended for those most in need will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.”
“Working with our law enforcement counterparts and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to pursue and prosecute individuals who repeatedly make false statements to government agencies helps ensure the integrity of government processes,” said Josh Hauxhurst, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division. “This investigation sends the message that those who lie to federal investigators and commit fraud in the process will be held accountable.”
“The Elsaghir’s plea serves as an important reminder that Federal income tax compliance should be equally shared among all Americans,” said Special Agent in Charge Sarah Kull, IRS Criminal Investigation, Detroit Field Office. Conspiring to defraud the government with a scheme to underreport taxable income and to steal money meant for low income families is unlawful and shameful.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Salvador Gonzalez said, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was created to provide food and nutrition to those who truly need this assistance. Those who are involved in fraud and abuse of SNAP and other USDA programs will be aggressively pursued by our office. Our joint investigation in this investigation helps brings to justice individuals who sought to profit from the SNAP program through illegal schemes. The USDA Office of Inspector General will continue to dedicate resources and work with our local law enforcement partners in order to protect the integrity of this and other USDA programs and to pursue prosecution of those who commit fraud.”
Sentencing of both Abraham Elsaghir and Samar Elsaghir has been set for June 23, 2022, before Judge Laurie J. Michelson in the Eastern District of Michigan. Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. Judge Michelson will determine each sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The investigation of this case was jointly conducted by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General – Investigations, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick E. Corbett and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Roble.