Judge denies bar owner’s request for house arrest

Farah's in Grand Rapids. (December 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For at least two years, Michael Farah and his son Brian skimmed cash from their Grand Rapids bars and then failed to report the income on their taxes. But after a detailed admission by the younger Farah, it will be a while before either of them is serving drinks again.

The pair pocketed $232,000 from their bars — Kuzzin’s on the West Side, Farah’s on the North End and Drake’s in Godwin Heights — in 2013 and did not report the income on business or individual tax returns. They skimmed another $176,000 the next year.

Then in 2015, the IRS let the Farahs know an audit was looming. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that the Farahs, specifically son Brian, did their best to delay the audit while destroying sales records to conceal what they had been up to. In his plea, Michael Farah took the blame for putting his son up to destroying the records because the older man lacked the computer savvy to do so.

In April, Brian Farah was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution and fines. His attorney argued that without Brian Farah at the helm, the bars were in jeopardy of not being able to function.

This week, Michael Farah was sentenced to 18 months in prison and to pay restitution, including $127,000 in owed federal taxes that he owed for the cash he skimmed, plus $95,000 in penalties and interest.

In court documents, Michael Farah argued he should get home confinement because he is elderly and suffers from a variety of health ailments, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease.

In response to Farah’s request, Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Stiffler wrote that while Farrah may be old and sick, that did not prevent him from spending 211 days at Gun Lake Casino between 2012 and 2016 — including 77 days in 2016 alone. Stiffler said Farah gambled $2.5 million during that time.

He said anyone well enough to spend that much time in a smoke-filled casino is well enough to spend time in federal prison where health care is provided.

The U.S. attorney said “Farah may be 70 years old and in poor health, but the elderly do not have a license to commit crime.”

The judge agreed and ordered Farah to turn himself in to federal marshals soon.

On Wednesday, 24 Hour News 8  went to Farah’s West Side home to ask him about the situation. While a Lexus and Cadillac were parked in the open garage and someone looked through the door, no one was willing to answer.