Criminal Justice

Conn. Lawyer Gets 16 Months for Tax Evasion

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A Connecticut lawyer who worked with a well-known criminal defense attorney was sentenced this week to 16 months in prison for tax evasion.

Joseph Richichi, who is in his early 60s, pleaded guilty in April in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn. His sentence this week included a $15,000 fine in addition to his prison term, and he has already made full restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for $614,231 in taxes that he admittedly didn’t pay, as well as $763,076 in penalties and interest, reports the Connecticut Post.

U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill said he received more presentencing letters in support of Richichi than he has ever gotten in any other case. However, “I need everyone sitting here today to know that if they evade taxes they’re going to jail,” the judge announced yesterday to a courtroom filled with dozens of Richichi’s friends, family and colleagues. “I need everybody who reads or hears about this case to know that if they evade taxes, they’re going to jail.”

Richichi gave up his license to practice law after he was sentenced, according to Jacob Zeldes, a lawyer representing him.

An average sentence for tax evasion is 15 months, the judge noted.

“Authorities said Richichi evaded paying taxes on more than $1.8 million he earned from 2000 to 2005,” reports an Associated Press article about the sentencing. Although he contends that health problems and financial issues at his law firm were factors in the crime, prosecutors say in court filings that, as the newspaper puts it, “Richichi cheated on his taxes because he thought he could get away with it.”

Richichi worked with criminal defense lawyer Michael “Mickey” Sherman, who often appears on television as a legal commentator. It appears from news coverage that the two may simply have shared office space, although Richichi is also described in some media accounts both as a partner and as an associate of Sherman.

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