An East Meadow business manager who attempted to bribe an IRS agent because they were both Muslims, was sentenced Tuesday to six months home confinement and a $15,000 fine after seeking a lesser sentence on grounds that bribing officials is common in his native Bangladesh, officials said.
Mohammad Sayeem, 42, of East Meadow, had told the agent who was auditing his personal returns, that he "would prefer his tax dollars go to a fellow Muslim than fund the U.S. government’s foreign entanglements and support for Israel," officials said after his arrest in September on a charge of bribery of a public official.
The agent immediately reported the attempted bribe to his supervisors who then set up a sting operation, officials said.
When the agent and Sayeem met again, the unnamed agent filled out a Report of Income Tax Change stating that Sayeem had no tax liability, officials said.
Sayeem then gave the agent $1,500 in cash, plus a Michael Kors watch, and was arrested, officials said.
Eventually, Sayeem pleaded guilty to the single count of bribery, but argued in his sentencing memorandum that he "attempts to explain his conduct by claiming that, in his native Bangladesh, bribing government officials is a culturally-accepted way of life," Eastern District Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Bagnuola said in court papers.
While Sayeem could have faced as much as six months to a year in prison under sentencing guidelines, the business manager for accountants argued in his memorandum that he should not get any confinement but would agree to a fine of $5,000, Bagnuola said.
Sayeem’s argument was "unpersuasive" Bagnuola said, noting the defendant had come to the United States when he was 11, and attended high school and college here.
"It is implausible to suggest that, after 31 years in America, his attempt to bribe an IRS agent was simply a reversion to a cultural norm 'he witnessed in his childhood,' Bagnuola said, citing language in court papers.
In sentencing Sayeem to home confinement instead of prison, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Brown said he took into account Sayeem’s many charitable activities, as well as the fact that he has five children, including one who is autistic.
Sayeem’s charitable activities include paying for the education of children and "living necessities" for families in Bangladesh, according to court papers.
Before he was sentenced, Sayeem told Judge Brown: "I am extremely sorry and I regret what I had done."