On this tax law blog, we frequently discuss the circumstances by which well-meaning individuals can start down a path that eventually leads to tax crimes and other fraudulent activities. When tax charges involve a professional – such as a tax lawyer, accountant, or tax preparer – it is common for the individual to start out with good intentions and an earnest desire to help. However, over time, the professional may come under additional pressures or believe that his or her years of service and dedication will provide immunization from suspicion and protection from prosecution.
In reality, a history of compliance and high standing in the community will not protect against tax charges. Agents and special agents from the IRS simply follow the paper trail and other tell-tale signs of tax fraud. Human elements that many would expect to prevent tax charges from being advanced do not actually play the role or provide the protection that people assume they will before choosing to commit tax fraud. It is likely no different for a once-respected attorney who recently pleaded guilty to tax fraud and other related criminal charges.
For attorney Charles Busse, it probably seemed like a foolproof scheme. Working with a respected federal agent, Busse could plausibly charge intending immigrants tens of thousands of dollars to ostensibly fix immigration problems. In reality, these payments were bribes for a federal agent who was a coconspirator. For a time, Busse worked with an also indicted federal agent and would charge immigrants as much as $15,000 to have a federal agent falsely claim that the individuals were involved with investigations into drugs, money laundering or the manufacturing of false identification documents. While this scheme worked for a time, from roughly 2009 to about 2015, it was only successful in about five instances before it was discovered.
Due to his participation in this scheme to fraudulently obtain immigration benefits for his clients, attorney Busse faced numerous charges. Busse was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States and bribery of a public official. Busse also faced tax evasion charges and multiple charges that he failed to report income on his taxes.
Perhaps on the basis of his success, social standing, reputation, and status as a lawyer, it appears that Busse originally intended to plead guilty to only certain charges while entering a not guilty plea for the remaining charges. In fact, prior to and during an in-court appearance at the beginning of November, Busse appeared to be contemplating changing course on a plea deal he had previously agreed to. In fact, upon hearing that the attorney intended to change his plea, the presiding federal judge had harsh words for the attorney stating that “He’s diddled with the court. I don’t think he’s entitled to his freedom.”
Following these statements, Busse pleaded guilty to all four tax charges against him. However, the judge first made sure that Busse understood that his guilty pleas were voluntary and made freely. Busse’s guilty pleas are likely to set off an array of consequences for the attorney that may include a federal prison sentence.
Criminal tax charges can all result in the convicted individual facing a federal prison sentence. Furthermore, financial penalties also apply. These financial penalties frequently include an additional fine, responsibility to pay restitution on the unpaid tax and interest on the unpaid obligation. Needless to say, the penalties one can face for tax crimes can be exceedingly harsh and life-altering. However, professionals like doctors and lawyers must also concern themselves with an additional layer of consequences.
That is, most professional credentialing boards have character and fitness standards that licensed professionals must adhere to. Regardless as to whether one is a doctor, lawyer, or accountant certain deviations from professional character and fitness standards can result in a loss of one’s license to practice. In the case of a tax fraud conviction, most professional boards will consider this a serious matter because tax fraud and tax evasion are inherently crimes of dishonesty. Crimes involving an element of dishonesty or “moral turpitude” are frequently grounds for professional discipline. In the case of an attorney, for instance, conviction for tax fraud and other felonies involving dishonesty or fraud is typically grounds for disbarment.
Facing criminal tax charges mean that you face serious consequences that can include the potential loss of your freedom. While a prison sentence will eventually come to an end, the consequences of a criminal conviction will follow an individual for years. For professionals convicted of tax crimes, this often means the loss of one’s reputation, standing, and license to practice.
When facing criminal tax allegations, it is prudent to contact a criminal tax defense lawyer immediately. A tax defense lawyer can often anticipate the path the audit or enforcement action will take. He or she may be able to develop responsive strategies to avoid the potential worst-case scenario. To schedule a reduced-rate consultation, call the Tax Law Offices of David W. Klasing at 800-681-1295 today or contact us online.