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Legal Ethics

Judge Orders Convicted Tax Lawyers to Warn About Misleading the IRS

Posted Jan 22, 2010 10:29 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A judge has ordered two Ernst & Young tax lawyers convicted of selling illegal tax shelters to spread the word about the consequences of their wrongdoing.

The lawyers, Robert Coplan and Martin Nissenbaum, were sentenced Thursday, the New York Law Journal reports. Coplan was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $75,000. Nissenbaum was sentenced to 2½ years in prison and fined $100,000.

But U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein of Manhattan tacked on an unusual requirement to the lawyers’ supervised release after their prison sentence, the story says. Both lawyers will have to warn about the dangers of misleading the Internal Revenue Service in speeches to lawyers, accounting firms and bar groups, including, possibly, the ABA Section of Taxation.

According to the New York Law Journal account, Stein explained the requirement in Coplan’s sentencing this way. Coplan should "set forth his experiences and explain to these people the dangers of misleading the IRS, the dangers of going along with what everyone else is doing, the dangers of thinking all you are doing is your job ... but realizing that, at some point, it tips over into criminal liability," Stein said.

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