Indian American businessman sentenced for bribery and tax evasion

Arman Amirshahi was part of one of the several sophisticated and long-term bribery schemes helmed by co-conspirators Anthony Merritt and Vincent Slater.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express Illustrations

WASHINGTON: An Indian American businessman has been 'sentenced to 18 months' probation and 200 hours of community service for bribery and tax evasion, the Department of Justice said.

Arman Amirshahi, 46, was part of one of the several sophisticated and long-term bribery schemes helmed by co-conspirators Anthony Merritt, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, and Vincent Slater, former manager in the DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR).

In furtherance of the schemes, four business ownersincluding Amirshahi, Charles Zhou, Andre De Moya, and Davoud Jafari paid cash bribes, through Merritt as a middleman, to Slater, to evade their business taxes.

A former employee of the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Merritt held himself out as a permit and licensing expediter and introduced the business owners to the scheme, an official release said on Friday.

For a cut of the bribe payments, Merritt handled communications with the business owners.

Merritt ferried their cash bribe payments to Slater and allowed Slater to maintain apparent distance from them as he fraudulently reduced their liabilities or intervened on their behalf within OTR.

Slater resigned from OTR in December 2017, concluding the schemes, each of which had lasted over five years.

Through their actions, the co-conspirators deprived the District of Columbia of approximately USD3 million, the Department of Justice said.

Each of the defendants was convicted for their role in this conduct.

Amirshahi and Zhou pleaded guilty to bribery in January 2019 and February 2019, respectively.

In 2019, Slater, De Moya, and Merritt were charged in one indictment, and Slater, Jafari, and Merritt were charged in a second indictment.

Slater pleaded guilty post-indictment in June 2020.

In June 2023, a jury convicted De Moya and Merritt of conspiracy, bribery, and wire fraud.

In September 2023, Merritt pleaded guilty to the second indictment in which he was charged.

In October 2023, the jury convicted Jafari of conspiracy, bribery, and wire fraud.

Merritt was sentenced to 110 months in prison for his central role in facilitating the separate conspiracies.

For their respective roles, De Moya received a sentence of 30 months; Slater received a sentence of 27 months; and Jafari received a sentence of 24 months.

Zhou, the first co-conspirator to cooperate with the government, was sentenced to five years of probation.

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