Indian American Businessman Sentenced in DC Bribery and Tax Evasion Scheme

Indian-American businessman sentenced for bribery scheme that deprived Washington, DC of $3M in tax revenue. Highlights ongoing corruption in local government and the importance of accountability.

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Indian American Businessman Sentenced in DC Bribery and Tax Evasion Scheme

Indian American Businessman Sentenced in DC Bribery and Tax Evasion Scheme

Arman Amirshahi, an Indian American businessman, was sentenced to 18 months' probation and 200 hours of community service for his role in a sophisticated bribery scheme involving Washington, DC. Amirshahi pleaded guilty to bribery charges in January 2019 for his involvement in the long-running conspiracy that deprived the District of Columbia of approximately $3 million in tax revenue.

According to court documents, Amirshahi was part of a group of business owners who paid cash bribes to Vincent Slater, a former manager in the DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR), to avoid paying their business taxes. Anthony Merritt, a former employee of the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, acted as a middleman, facilitating the cash bribe payments from Amirshahi and other entrepreneurs to Slater.

In exchange for the bribes, Slater reduced the business owners' tax liabilities or intervened on their behalf within OTR. The scheme, which lasted over five years, involved several downtown bars, nightclubs, and the concert venue Echostage, all of which benefited from the illegal tax breaks.

Why this matters: This case highlights the ongoing problem of corruption and bribery in local government, which can have significant financial consequences for cities and erode public trust in officials. The successful prosecution of those involved sends a strong message that such illegal activities will not be tolerated.

Amirshahi, along with the other co-conspirators, was ordered to pay restitution and forfeit their ill-gotten gains. Merritt, who played a central role in facilitating the separate conspiracies, received the longest sentence of 110 months in prison. The other co-conspirators were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 24 to 30 months for their involvement in the scheme.

Key Takeaways

  • Indian-American businessman Amirshahi sentenced for bribery scheme in DC
  • Amirshahi paid cash bribes to DC tax official to avoid business taxes
  • Scheme deprived DC of $3 million in tax revenue over 5 years
  • Amirshahi ordered to pay restitution and forfeit ill-gotten gains
  • Prosecution demonstrates commitment to holding accountable tax system abusers