Attorneys Behaving Badly

Two stories of lawyers in tax trouble. One is local (the second Las Vegas attorney in recent weeks who was found guilty of tax evasion); one committed especially bad behavior.

Let’s start with the local story. Paul Wommer decided that a good way of hiding money from the IRS was not to deposit all his income at once. If you do that and your deposits are cash–which apparently Mr. Wommer’s were–you are structuring your bank deposits. That’s a felony. Mr. Wommer did that 15 times. He also was caught evading paying $13,020 in tax to the IRS. Yesterday he was sentenced to 41 months at ClubFed.

Meanwhile, the case that is far worse comes from California. Orion Douglas Memmott was found guilty yesterday of attempted tax evasion and subscribing to a false tax document. From the DOJ press release:

According to testimony presented at trial, Memmott, a Stanford Law School graduate and tax attorney, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors and law firm clients in order to spend on his own expenses, including failed day trading, travel, and personal trainers. Some of this money was removed from a client’s medical trust, leaving her destitute and homeless. Memmott concealed the embezzled money through the use of nominee accounts and false statements to investors, clients, and the IRS. Memmott also concealed his real estate holdings and rental income from IRS collection agents who were seeking to collect unpaid taxes for tax years 1993-1999, amounting to more than $650,000, not including penalties and interest.

There isn’t anything good to say about this case. Mr. Memmott is likely to spend several years at ClubFed (and deservedly so).

One last remark regarding preparer regulation: Both individuals I’ve written about are members of the Bar. Both subscribe to supposedly stringent ethics rules. Clearly, both individuals were guilty of violating the canons of their profession. The idea that just because someone has a license bad behavior will vanish is, of course, foolish.

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