A federal judge yesterday sentenced Burhan Ud Din, 50, of Watertown, to three years of probation and 500 hours of community service for his participation in a scheme by Pakistani natives to defraud the IRS through a chain of fried-chicken joints in the Boston area.
Judge George A. O’Toole also ordered Din to pay the IRS the $140,372 he was convicted of not paying at two take-out places - Kennedy Fried Chicken, 1041 Tremont St. in Roxbury and Crown Fried Chicken, 895 Broadway in Chelsea - that he partially owned along with now convicted ringleader Hazrat Khan of the Catskills, and a Kennedy Fried Chicken he owned on his own at 377 Centre St., in Jamaica Plain.
Federal prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of a year - he had faced up to five years - after his conviction in August for trax fraud between 2009 and 2013.
Din's attorney, David Grimaldi of Cambridge, asked for only probation and a fine of $500, citing Din's wife and four children, one in college and one with a form of epilepsy untreatable with medications, whom he now supports by driving a taxi and for Uber and Lyft - jobs that let him rush to his son should he need help.
To bolster his case that Din did not deserve to languish in prison, Grimaldi submitted a series of letters attesting to Din's caring nature, including from his neighbors, from members of the Allston Brighton Islamic Center - who spoke of the 11 months he spent helping restore its North Beacon Street mosque - and from 2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai, whose father knew Din when both lived in Pakistan:
Mr. Burhan Ud Din is a longtime friend of my father Mr. Ziauddin Yousafzai from Swat, Pakistan. He is known to my family for more than 15 years. My father always spoke highly of him and has considered him to be an honest and trustworthy individual. He is known to be from a noble and upstanding family amongst our community in Swat.
On one of my recent visit to the U.S. I met Mr Burhan Ud Din and his family with my parents. In that meeting we learned that the family is going though a difficult time. Mr Burhan Ud Din is the sole income provider of four children and a wife. His 10 year old son is in need of constant care due to disability while other three are attending schools.
My father has always regarded Mr. Burhan Ud Din as a hardworking person and a loyal friend. I hope the family overcome the troublesome times and I wish him good luck in all his endeavors.
O'Toole sided with Din on the issue of imprisonment, but the government on the issue of restitution.
Din was one of several Pakistani natives recruited by Khan and by Khurshed Iqbal - who fled the country before he could be charged - to open small fried-chicken take-out places across Boston and several nearby communities, under names that included Kennedy, New York and Crown Fried Chicken.
In exchange for putting up seed money, prosecutors say, Khan and Iqbal expected the owners to make regular payments to them - in part by paying workers in cash to avoid payroll taxes and in part by keeping two sets of books - one of which had bogus revenue and expense numbers for submission to the IRS at tax time. The two recruiters remained part owners, but hid their names on each outlet's corporate filings.
In 2017, the Boston Licensing Board shut a New York Fried Chicken outlet in Hyde Park after its alleged full owner pleaded guilty in the scheme - because Khan wasn't listed as an owner and that's a violation of board rules.
The man listed as owner of that outlet, Riaz Ali Shah, received a sentence of three years in federal prison.
In their request for a one-year sentence for Din, federal prosecutors acknowledged Din's role as breadwinner for a large family, and one with a child with acute medical needs and said that was why they were not seeking the full sentence which Din could have been given. But they said he deserved some time behind bars, partly because he never acknowledged his participation in the scheme. But also, they said, he showed he actually liked the idea of the scheme so much he branched out and opened his own Kennedy Fried Chicken in Jamaica Plain's Hyde Square - where he could squeeze out money by filing false tax returns and avoiding payroll taxes without having to pay anything to Khan and Iqbal.