White-Collar Crime

Former Jenkens & Gilchrist Partner Takes Plea in Tax Shelter Opinions Case; Will Forfeit $1.6M

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A former partner of Jenkens & Gilchrist pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion Thursday in federal court in Manhattan concerning a decade-long tax-shelter scheme that the trial judge says is the biggest American tax-fraud case ever.

Donna Guerin, 52, agreed to forfeit $1.6 million and could face a maximum 10-year prison term on both counts when she is sentenced in January, Bloomberg reports.

She is accused of working with Paul M. Daugerdas, who headed the now-defunct law firm’s Chicago tax practice, to provide wealthy clients with expensive opinion letters providing a purported legal basis for sheltering income that was not appropriately grounded in tax law. The two formerly worked together at Altheimer & Gray, a Chicago law firm which no longer exists, before they joined Jenkens & Gilchrist in 1998, Guerin told the court today.

Daugerdas, a co-defendant and the accused mastermind in the case, has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.

Prosecutors said the conduct at issue in the case occurred between 1994 and 2004, the Associated Press reports.

Asked Thursday by U.S. District Judge Judge William H. Pauley III if she knew she was acting illegally when she helped draft opinion letters justifying tax shelters, Guerin told him “I came to that understanding over time.”

Both she and Daugerdas were convicted after a three-month trial last year. However, that verdict was reversed over what Pauley called “breathtaking lies” by an attorney who was serving as a juror.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge OKs New Trial for Ex-Jenkens Tax Leader, Cites ‘Breathtaking’ Lies of Suspended Lawyer on Jury”

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