White-Collar Crime

Ex-BigLaw partner gets 6 months in massive tax-shelter case, must help pay $220M restitution

A former partner of Jenkens & Gilchrist was sentenced last week to six months in federal prison and ordered to help pay $220 million in restitution, along with two co-defendant ex-partners in the Chicago office of the now-defunct law firm.

Erwin Mayer had faced as much as 10 years in prison but cooperated with the government in making a case against fellow tax-shelter practice members Paul Daugerdas, the former chief of the firm’s Chicago office, and Donna Guerin. They were sentenced earlier to 15 years and eight years, respectively.

Mayer pleaded guilty in 2010 to conspiracy and tax evasion charges. He apologized Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan for “the choices I have made, the damage I have caused this country and the damage I have caused my profession,” before he was sentenced, Reuters reports.

Federal prosecutors have described the case as the biggest U.S. tax fraud ever prosecuted. They said Daugerdas orchestrated a scheme in which phony tax shelters, backed by costly legal opinion letters, were marketed to around 1,000 wealthy individuals between 1994 and 2004. Fraudulent deductions by those involved in the scheme allegedly resulted in a loss to the U.S. treasury that has been variously estimated at $92 million and $1.63 billion.

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