Criminal Justice

Lawyer Pleads Guilty, Faces Up to 10 Years in Tax Shelter Fraud Scheme

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Erwin Mayer, a onetime Chicago-based lawyer at the now-defunct Jenkens & Gilchrist, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy and tax evasion charges.

Mayer was indicted last year with two other former lawyer colleagues—Paul Daugerdas and Donna Guerin—on charges that they schemed to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by promoting and defending questionable tax shelters.

The New York Law Journal reported that the guilty plea is part of a cooperation agreement with the U.S. government which also includes Mayer forfeiting $10 million to the government. The tax evasion charge against Mayer was for fraud committed on his personal return in 1999, the New York Law Journal says.

“I am filled with shame and remorse for what I did,” Mayer said Monday in court, according to Bloomberg.

Prosecutors said the shelters generated more than $7.32 billion in phony tax losses for at least 931 wealthy clients between 1994 and 2005, Bloomberg said, and in 2005, Jenkens & Gilchrist paid $81.6 million to clients who sued the firm over its advise.

Bloomberg says that Mayer’s sentencing date is Feb. 10, 2011; the New York Law Journal states that no date has yet been set because of Mayer’s ongoing cooperation with the prosecution.

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