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Legal Ethics

Lawyer Who Stashed $1M in Safes Is Sentenced; He Tells of ‘Abyss of Ruination’

Posted Dec 16, 2011 7:31 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Baltimore criminal defense lawyer has been sentenced to a year in prison after a search turned up $1.15 million in his home and office safes.

Stanley Needleman, 69, had faced a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison, report the Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore City Paper. He had pleaded guilty to tax evasion in September and agreed to disbarment.

Prosecutors had sought a two-year sentence, while defense lawyers had sought probation. He will also pay more than $660,000 in unpaid taxes and forfeit nearly $500,000.

The sentencing hearing was packed with several dozen Needleman supporters, the City Paper says. Lawyers and former judges testified on his behalf.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Wilkinson said Needleman took cash payments from clients and kept a handwritten accounting next to his bed. “This is not a case of need, this is a case of greed,” she said.

Needleman admitted he was wrong and said he has been “an emotional and intellectual zombie” since officials raided his home and office, according to the City Paper account. “Being a lawyer invigorated my very being as a human being,” he said. “Now as you look at me, I dwell in the abyss of ruination.”

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