ILNews

Tax fraud lands attorney in prison

IL Staff
January 1, 2008
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An Indianapolis personal injury lawyer will spend time in prison for committing tax fraud by underreporting his income.

U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney of the Southern District's Indianapolis Division sentenced Robert E. Lehman to eight months in prison and six months of home detention after he pleaded guilty to making a false federal income tax return.

Lehman filed false personal income tax returns with the IRS in 2002, 2003, and 2004, by understating his business income. When he paid his clients from his firm's trust account, Lehman would cut two checks payable to the client. Then, he directed the client to endorse one check to him; these checks represented fees or income to Lehman's law practice. The firm would treat both of the checks as made payable to the client as cost of goods sold, so his net income was falsely underreported.

Over the course of three years, Lehman underpaid more than $100,000 in federal income tax.

Lehman also will have one year of supervised release after his imprisonment. He also was fined $10,000. Lehman has paid $236,000 back to the IRS for tax, penalties, and interest.

Lehman has been in trouble in the past. Last year, he was suspended from practicing law for 120 days for trying to have opposing counsel agree to a continuance of a trial in exchange for Lehman's client not filing a complaint against the opposing counsel.

In 2004, he received a public reprimand from the Indiana Supreme Court for showing written jury witness questions to his witness over objections from opposing counsel and before the judge ruled on the issue, causing a mistrial. Lehman also removed a book, which contained opposing counsel's notes regarding cross-examining a witness, from opposing counsel's table despite an objection from opposing counsel.
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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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