Chicago Lawyer Helped Wealthy Clients Dodge Taxes
By Cristina Camara
In what is considered the largest tax fraud prosecution in history, a Chicago lawyer has pleaded guilty to helping rich clients evade millions of dollars in taxes.
Donna Guerin, a former partner at the now defunct Jenkens & Gilchrist law firm, is set to be sentenced January 11, 2013, when she may receive up to ten years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States and tax evasion. Her role in the scheme was to draft false opinion letters related to illegal tax shelters, which produced more than $6 billion in phony tax losses that customers could use to reduce their tax obligations by tens of millions of dollars.
"I knew in my heart then, and I acknowledge to your honor today, that many of our clients were only interested in reducing tax liabilities," Guerin told US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III, according to The Wall Street Journal. She said she came to understand "over time" that what she was doing was illegal.
"With her plea today, we continue the process of holding to account a group of professionals who used their training and expertise to facilitate a fraud, the magnitude of which cannot be overstated," US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
As part of the plea, Guerin agreed to forfeit $1.6 million and sell her Elmhurst, Illinois, home to satisfy the judgment, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Guerin changed her plea from the first trial in June when she was convicted, but juror misconduct resulted in her being granted a new trial. A juror, who Pauley called "a pathological liar," made up information about her background, her address, and claimed that "most attorneys" were "career criminals," Forbes reported. Two other defendants, Paul Daugerdas and Denis Field, were also given new trials. They both pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for retrial in April 2013. The eleven-week trial in 2011 included forty-one witnesses and 1,300 pieces of evidence in the case, which covered misconduct from 1994 to 2004.
Voice of the Editor
Even though any accounting auditor would tell you it seems like there are an awful lot of tax accountants out there, surely one-third of the country isn't made up of tax preparers, so it's rather startling news to learn that one-third of Americans like to do their taxes. Who knew?
This Week on AccountingWEB
Bill Walter of Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates and Harold Gaar of TravisWolff LLP weigh in on mobile technology use while employees are at work.
WestArk RSVP and Fayette County Community Action Agency – organizations that received grant funding through the IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program – spoke with AccountingWEB about how they assist senior citizens in their communities.
CPA Robert Raiola, who heads the Sports & Entertainment Group of Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC, talks NFL player income taxes with AccountingWEB.
Retiring KPMG Centennial Professor of Accounting at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business Robert May, PhD talks with AccountingWEB about his rewarding forty-three-year career.