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Letter from Nobel Peace Prize recipient helps keep Watertown man out of prison after conviction for role in Pakistani fried-chicken tax-scam ring

Malala

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.

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Comments

Great! Now we have a precedent case to help a bunch of others just like them.

It would be deeply troubling for a Nobel Prize winner to support a convicted felon, especially an immigrant who showed his appreciation by attempting to defraud the country that allowed him refuge. Refreshingly, that's not the case here. The letter from the prize winner merely provides some already known biographical information on the criminal and she tells the court that her father has positive feelings toward him. She carefully provides little, if any, firsthand background or support. If I were the judge I would have said, "What's this?"

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Yeah but I still think it's in very poor taste for a Nobel Prize winner (whom I don't believe is a US citizen) to even passively get involved in sentencing for fraud charges.

I have no doubt that the guy may be a very personable, kind person. He also knowingly defrauded the government over $100k and opened a second store because he realized how good he was at doing it. It's insane to me that after all the work by the government to prove this guy defrauded the American taxpayers, the same people who offered him a new life here. He never confessed or apologized but he's supposed to avoid prison because he has a special-needs son? That's insane!

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She sounds like she's not up to much good herself, if she's helping to keep a person who's defrauded businesses out of jail, just because he has a special needs son.

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You and I and everyone else have an absolute right to write a letter in support of or in opposition to any judicial action, and the judge has an absolute right to give such letters as much or as little weight as the judge sees fit. I agree with O-Fish-L’s assessment that the letter writer very carefully avoided putting much of her own credibility on the line; “my dad knew him and he seems to be a good guy” is about as weak a recommendation as one can write.

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She started standing up to the Taliban for the rights of girls to go to school when she was 11, and continued to do so after they shot her in the head when she was 15. Here she is acting as a character witness for a family friend. There is nothing even slightly inappropriate in this. She is a heroine, and you are a cretin.

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Anyone is free to express their views on judicial decisions. It's part of our heritage that court proceedings and decisions are generally public, with a few exceptions for sensitive matters.

Many of us don't believe people should be in jails for non-violent crimes. That's a pretty extremist right-wing view you've got there if you think anyone who opposes incarceration must be "up to no good." I imagine you also think people who support policing/prison reform hate law and order.

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Up to no good because she wrote a letter for a family friend? Seriously? Because she opposes incarceration of a person who is needed at home?

Are you a member of the Taliban or something? They agree with you - so they shot her in the head for advocating education for women.

I suppose you think that impeachment is unconstitutional, too.

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It would be deeply troubling for a Nobel Prize winner to support a convicted felon, especially an immigrant who showed his appreciation by attempting to defraud the country that allowed him refuge

Do you know that he was a refugee, Fishy?

Why is it worse for him to "attempt to defraud the country" than someone like you?