Issa, ex-Statler owner, sent to British prison

March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 7:59 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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Credit: Buffalo Rising

Issa, ex-Statler owner, sent to British prison

March 26, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 7:59 AM EDT

The next stop for former Statler Towers owner, British developer/investor Bashar Issa is prison.

The Southwark Crown Court in Manchester, England sentenced Issa to six years and five months in jail following his conviction in film tax fraud case. Issa was one five convicted and sentenced in the case.

According to court documents, Issa ran a film production company, Evolved Pictures, that received English tax breaks totaling $4.25 million for a movie that was supposed to be filmed, but allegedly never was put into production. The movie was investigated by Britain's HM Revenue & Customs and they claim the film was never created.

Evolved Picture did make a separate movie, "A Landscape of Lies" starring British TV star Andrew McLean, but its costs were just a fraction of those originally claimed by Issa's company.

The sentencing is the latest is a series of legal woes involving Issa, related to developments he attempted to build in Manchester.

Issa, in 2006, bought the Statler Towers in downtown Buffalo and promised a $100 million makeover of the 18-story Niagara Square landmark. Issa, also, pledged to build a 40-story office tower on S. Elmwood Avenue. The tower never left the planning stage and only a small fraction of the Statler renovations were completed.

Issa's Buffalo company was placed into involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and the Statler was ultimately mothballed and then sold, twice, out of bankruptcy - finally to developer Mark Croce who has brought the building back to life.

Issa was last seen in Buffalo in early 2007. He was reportedly in London and Kuwait before being returned to Manchester and now, sentenced to jail.