Owner of Middlesex County, New Jersey, Pawn Shop Admits Evading Taxes on over $340,000 in Income
Separate Civil Complaint Alleges Business was a Front to Buy and Sell Stolen Jewelry
NEWARK, N.J. – A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man who owns and operates a pawn shop and jewelry business in North Brunswick, New Jersey, today admitted concealing more than $340,000 in taxable income from the IRS, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Mehran “David” Balazadeh, 53, of North Brunswick, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of tax evasion for failing to report income received from his business, Carpet and Futon Gallery of NJ LLC, a/k/a “More Cash 4 Gold LLC,” and other sources.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On April 28, 2014, Balazadeh filed a 2012 individual income tax return in which he falsely stated that his taxable income was negative $47,141 and that he owed no taxes. However, Balazadeh admitted that he actually earned taxable income of $340,144 in 2012. Balazadeh’s actions resulted in a loss to the United States of $90,849.
In a separate civil complaint for forfeiture in rem filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Balazadeh allegedly used More Cash 4 Gold as a front to receive large amounts of stolen jewelry and other items, including the proceeds of burglaries committed in Middlesex County and elsewhere. According to the complaint, Balazadeh sold the stolen property and used the proceeds to pay for the ongoing scheme as well as purchase real estate and other stolen items. The complaint alleges that Balazadeh directed members of the “Brown Pride Gang” to burglarize homes in North Brunswick and elsewhere and bring him stolen jewelry. During the course of the investigation, jewelry, gold and other inventory valued at approximately $800,000 was seized from Balazadeh’s business and residence.
The statements made in the civil forfeiture complaint are merely allegations and have not been admitted by Balazadeh in connection with his criminal guilty plea.
Although Balazadeh pleaded guilty to only one count of tax evasion for the 2012 tax year, his plea agreement requires that Balazadeh admit to evading income taxes for the years 2008 through 2012, and the Court will take this conduct into account at Balazadeh’s sentencing. Balazadeh faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice his gain from the offense, together with the costs of prosecution. Balazadeh also agreed to file accurate tax returns and to pay the IRS all taxes and penalties owed. Sentencing is scheduled for June 8, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, in Newark; and special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Newark Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the N.J. Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the N.J. State Commission of Investigation, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the North Brunswick Township Police Department for their roles in the case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Wangenheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit.
Defense counsel: Joseph R. Donahue Esq., River Edge, New Jersey