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7th Circuit upholds tax, fraud conviction against attorney, wife

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the finding that a Brownsburg attorney and his wife fraudulently withheld their 2001 income from the Internal Revenue Service through an elaborate shell game.

In Scott C. Cole and Jennifer A. Cole v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 10-2194, Scott and Jennifer Cole appealed the finding that they omitted more than $1.2 million of income and more than $1.3 million of self-employment income from their 2001 joint tax return and penalties imposed for fraudulently doing so. Scott, a business planning and tax attorney, formed a partnership with his attorney brother under the Bentley Group. Scott also created other entities – some owned by him and some with other family owners – and used them to transfer income.  

In 2001, Scott performed legal work on a trust that earned him $1.2 million. But instead of reporting that money, it was shifted among the various entities. The Coles underreported their income for 2001 and were eventually audited by the IRS. They petitioned the Tax Court for relief after the IRS determined they significantly underreported their income and assessed a $556,187 income tax deficiency and a $417,140 fraud penalty against the couple. The Tax Court entered a final decision upholding the deficiency and penalty amounts and also assessed an additional $178,000 in deficiency and fraud penalties.

Scott, who represented himself on appeal, only made two arguments the 7th Circuit found could be addressed: whether the Tax Court erred in finding the Coles omitted income from their 2001 tax return; and whether the Tax Court erred in imposing a fraud penalty.

The Coles were unable to produce records supporting the amounts they actually claimed on taxes and the evidence before the Tax Court showed they actually made a great deal more than they claimed, wrote Judge John Tinder. The appellate court also rejected the Coles’ argument that Scott did not actually earn the money but the Bentley Group did. They found the couple’s argument regarding the 2001 filing “only accents the game of thimblerig suggested by Scott’s legal and financial maneuvering.”

The judges also upheld the fraud penalty imposed, noting the Tax Court cited a variety of factors to show the commissioner proved with clear and convincing evidence that the couple understated their 2001 tax liabilities.

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  1. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

  2. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

  3. Hello everyone I'm Gina and I'm here for the exact same thing you are. I have the wonderful joy of waking up every morning to my heart being pulled out and sheer terror of what DCS is going to Throw at me and my family today.Let me start from the !bebeginning.My daughter lost all rights to her 3beautiful children due to Severe mental issues she no longer lives in our state and has cut all ties.DCS led her to belive that once she done signed over her right the babies would be with their family. We have faught screamed begged and anything else we could possibly due I hired a lawyer five grand down the drain.You know all I want is my babies home.I've done everything they have even asked me to do.Now their saying I can't see my grandchildren cause I'M on a prescription for paipain.I have a very rare blood disease it causes cellulitis a form of blood poisoning to stay dormant in my tissues and nervous system it also causes a ,blood clotting disorder.even with the two blood thinners I'm on I still Continue to develop them them also.DCS knows about my illness and still they refuse to let me see my grandchildren. I Love and miss them so much Please can anyone help Us my grandchildren and I they should be worrying about what toy there going to play with but instead there worrying about if there ever coming home again.THANK YOU DCS FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE. ( And if anyone at all has any ideals or knows who can help. Please contact (765)960~5096.only serious callers

  4. He must be a Rethuglican, for if from the other side of the aisle such acts would be merely personal and thus not something that attaches to his professional life. AND ... gotta love this ... oh, and on top of talking dirty on the phone, he also, as an aside, guess we should mention, might be important, not sure, but .... "In addition to these allegations, Keaton was accused of failing to file an appeal after he collected advance payment from a client seeking to challenge a ruling that the client repay benefits because of unreported income." rimshot

  5. I am not a fan of some of the 8.4 discipline we have seen for private conduct-- but this was so egregious and abusive and had so many points of bad conduct relates to the law and the lawyer's status as a lawyer that it is clearly a proper and just disbarment. A truly despicable account of bad acts showing unfit character to practice law. I applaud the outcome.

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