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Detroit Pizza Restaurant Owner Indicted for Tax Fraud

Detroit, Michigan, Pizza Restaurant owner Happy Asker is most likely unhappy after the Justice Department indicted him and several others earlier for federal tax violations related to his business, Happy's Pizza. 

Michigan-based Happy's Pizza grew into a thriving business with 100 franchises across six states. After a three-year investigation of the business, Happy along with Maher Bashi, Tom Yaldo, Arkan Summa and Tagrid Bashi are facing charges for multiple federal and tax offenses listed below:

  • 3 counts of filing a false individual tax return for Happy
  • 21 counts of aiding in the filing of false payroll tax returns for Happy and Maher;
  • 23 counts of aiding in the filing of false payroll tax returns regarding specific Happy Pizza franchises for Yaldo
  • 11 counts for aiding in the filing of false corporate tax returns in regards to specific Happy Pizza franchises for Happy and Bashi
  • 1 count of obstructing the due administration of internal revenue laws for Happy and Bashi
  • 1 count of obstruction for Summa and Bashi (charged together)
  • 1 count of obstruction for Yaldo

The problems for Happy's Pizza originally came to light in 2010 when thirty DEA, ATF, and IRS agents infiltrated the company's corporate offices and seized all of the business and personal records. The company maintains they have completely cooperated with the authorities for the last three years, and asked the public not to pre-judge the situation. In a statement released by the company it stated that the IRS investigated all 100 of its franchisee restaurants and only found seven stores to have under-reported income (the government says there were nine stores). It further vowed to vigorously defend its founder.

Happy and his associates stand to face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charges; up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of filing a false income tax return and aiding or assisting in filing a false return; and a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count for obstruction.

Sources

Dept. of Justice Press Release, "Pizza Franchise Owner and Four Others Indicted for Tax Fraud," July 16, 2013

CBS Detroit, "Happy's Pizza Founder Will Fight Tax Charges," July 17, 2013

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