CHICAGO —(ENEWSPF)–September 1, 2016. A former Winnetka resident who operated an illegal gambling enterprise before fleeing to the Middle East was sentenced today to more than four years in federal prison for failing to pay taxes on at least $2.5 million in unlawful earnings.
ALBER NAJJAR, also known as Alber Yakoub, failed to pay taxes on income he earned from a gambling operation in Illinois and Indiana from 1997 to 2001. Najjar filed an individual federal tax return for each of those years, but he failed to report the income he earned from the gambling business.
Najjar, 62, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of filing a false tax return. In addition to the 57-month prison term, U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman fined Najjar $5,000 and ordered him to pay back taxes to both the Unites States and the state of Illinois.
“Taxes are how governments pay for needed services,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick King argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Evasion robs governments and the people they serve of needed revenue.”
Shortly before being indicted in April 2004, Najjar fled to Lebanon and was considered a fugitive for more than eleven years. During that time, Najjar used a Syrian passport – issued in the name of Alber Yakoub – to travel to Europe, Asia and other parts of the Middle East. He was arrested in November 2015 on the island of Cyprus and extradited to the United States shortly thereafter.
Najjar, who resided in Winnetka prior to fleeing the country, generated large sums from his illegal bookmaking business, and utilized the services of offshore accounts to transact his business. He concealed from his accountant both the gambling enterprise and the income he earned from it. Najjar’s illegal conduct resulted in a total state and federal tax loss of more than $1.07 million.
The sentencing was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The officials praised the efforts of the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, which were instrumental in securing Najjar’s arrest and extradition.
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