A radical Jew-hating imam who made headlines for trashing a film shown at the National September 11 Museum is facing prison time in a tax cheat scam, according to his ‘Jewish’ lawyer, Leon Jacobson.
NY Daily News (h/t TROP) Sheik Mostafa Elazabawy, a retired NYCHA employee who also heads Masjid Manhattan, faces up to 15 years in prison for swindling at least $140,000 while working as a “tax preparer” at a Hell’s Kitchen Ethiopian restaurant in a side business, prosecutors said.
He also allegedly failed to clear the side gig with the Conflicts of Interests Board while working at the city Housing Authority. Elazabawy, 60, did state tax returns for Queen of Sheba on Tenth Ave. under an alias between 2005 and 2009, bilking the state out of the six-figure sum, prosecutors said.
“There’s evidence that the defendant prepared the sales tax returns without any records at all although he was in the restaurant many times and had access to those records had he asked for them,” Assistant District Attorney Maurice Mathis said at the clergyman’s Feb. 5 arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to a transcript.
“It appears that he actually was making up the numbers of the sales tax returns,” Mathis added. Queen of Sheba had allegedly been reporting less than a tenth of its sales but collecting sales tax from customers on all of the checks.
Elazabawy first made news last month when he vehemently objected to “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” a short documentary narrated by Brian Williams that will be shown to museum visitors when it opens to the public on Wednesday. “The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum,” Elazabawy reportedly wrote to the museum director. He resigned from the Lower Manhattan Clergy Council, which advised the museum, during the controversy.
In his criminal case, prosecutors did not say whether the restaurant’s underreporting was Elazabawy’s misdoing, but he allegedly told New York State Department of Taxation and Finance auditors that “the reason for that was because the restaurant sold raw meat.” “Raw meat would not be taxable just like a grocery store,” Mathis said. “But there’s no evidence that raw meat was sold by that restaurant.”
Elazabawy’s attorney Leon Jacobson said the religious leader is “a person of great repute” and called the charges “totally bizarre.” (HAH!)