In January 2006, it looked like former Everett businessman Antoine Jarjour was in serious trouble.
The state Attorney General’s Office filed 48 felony counts against him in connection with unpaid taxes and businesses he ran in Everett, as well as the “Seen on Screen” kiosks he operated at malls across the state.
Jarjour faced a possible prison term of up to five years after he allegedly underpaid nearly $400,000 in taxes.
On Monday, the Bellevue man, 51, was sentenced in Snohomish County Superior Court to a suspended sentence in which he will receive no jail time.
The sentencing, by Judge Linda Krese, came after Jarjour pleaded guilty to a single gross misdemeanor for failing to pay the state sales tax.
Twenty-four theft counts were dismissed earlier in a pre-trial hearing because too much time had elapsed between the alleged crime and when the charges were filed, said his lawyer, Mark Mestel of Everett.
Mestel attributed the underpaying of taxes to bad bookkeeping, an issue he told Krese had been fixed.
Jarjour spent several weeks in the Snohomish County Jail in 2006. Although he won’t see the inside of a cell now, he will have to pay up.
He has already reimbursed the state $100,000. In addition, the state expects to receive another $476,731 through Jarjour’s bankruptcy, said Scott Marlow, assistant attorney general.
The $100,000 represents fines and assessments, Marlow said. The remainder is the amount of back-due tax and interest.
“Under the circumstances, this is a fair and equitable resolution,” Mestel told the judge.
Jarjour is a Syrian national legally living in the United States. A felony conviction would have thwarted his attempt to attain political asylum status in this country, Mestel said.
Marlow said dismissal of the 24 counts in the pre-trial hearing was a major setback in the state’s case. He said his goal then became to recoup all the back tax money for the Department of Revenue.
Jarjour originally was charged with 24 counts of theft and 24 counts of filing false tax returns.
According to charging papers, Jarjour’s business, Meray Inc., reported less than half of its taxable retail sales from 2001 until it closed in 2004. Kiosks sold various products seen in TV advertising. The state alleged that Jarjour paid less than $339,000 of the $728,000 in sales tax he collected in that period.
The state also alleged in documents that he underpaid taxes in years before 2001.
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.