Mohamed H. Ruman, former manager of several Baton Rouge restaurants, was sentenced Thursday to four months in federal prison and four months in a halfway house for helping other people commit tax fraud.
Ruman, 37, also was ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson to pay restitution of $56,000 to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Ruman pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and admitted he helped underreport taxable payrolls at restaurants owned by an uncle, Jamal M. Roman.
“I’m sorry about what happened,” Ruman told Jackson.
J. Rodney Baum, Ruman’s attorney, argued for a sentence of probation.
Baum said Ruman did not share in the proceeds of any tax frauds.
Baum added that Ruman had “a completely clean criminal history” prior to participation in the tax scheme.
“In the course of the scheme … his role was quite minor,” conceded Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson.
But Amundson noted that Ruman benefited because he continued to receive his salary and company benefits rather than remove himself from illegal activity.
“He turned to fraudulent conduct, along with his uncle,” Amundson said.
Jackson noted that Ruman has become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
“This nation offered you an opportunity that other people around the world rarely have,” Jackson told Ruman.
The judge said Ruman violated the nation’s trust by participating in the tax scheme.
Jackson said Ruman also must serve two years of post-prison supervision by federal investigators.
The judge then ordered Ruman to report to prison on Oct. 17.
Roman, Ruman’s uncle, pleaded guilty in April to federal conspiracy, bribery and fraud charges and admitted concealing more than $7 million from state and local sales-tax collectors.
Roman, 50, also admitted his actions enabled him to avoid payment of approximately $600,000 in sales taxes.
Between May 2001 and January 2006, Roman owned and operated Papacito’s Restaurant in Prairieville and four Baton Rouge spots — Roman’s Café on Perkins Road, Roman’s Mediterranean Restaurant on Airline Highway, Roman’s Lebanese Greek Market on Government Street, and Papacito’s Restaurant on Bluebonnet Boulevard.
Roman is scheduled to be sentenced by Jackson on Oct. 13.