Bankruptcy attorney sentenced to probation after not paying $130,000 in taxes

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A bankruptcy attorney who didn't file tax returns for 2005 and 2006 was sentenced today to three years' probation.

Robert L. Williams, 50, said he "made a terrible mistake with this, judge," just before U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster imposed the sentence. "It's very humbling being on this side of the legal system."

Mr. Williams, of New Kensington, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of the misdemeanor failing to file income tax returns.

His attorney, Charles Porter, today said Mr. Williams relied upon his wife to prepare returns and "didn't know that she didn't prepare them properly."

He finally filed the returns this week.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway said Mr. Williams "was engaged in a real estate fraud scam in 2005 ... so he could live the lifestyle he wanted to live," and on top of that did not pay $130,777 in taxes.

He said Mr. Williams should serve 18 to 24 months in prison.

Mr. Williams was not charged with mortgage-related fraud. His wife, Lisa Gerideau-Williams, also an attorney, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, filing a false tax return and failing to file and income tax return.

She was not in the courtroom today.

Mr. Williams is also not contesting a state court charge of misapplication of funds, and expects to be sentenced to probation on that count, too.

Judge Lancaster said he found the case "puzzling ... because the defendant did not have the need to commit this or any other offense."

On top of probation, he ordered payment of the taxes due, without interest, but with a $25,000 fine.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.


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