An Oakmont businessman who spent a year in prison for not paying his taxes has been charged again in a convoluted fraud case that saw a judge dismiss some of the same charges earlier this week, saying the U.S. attorney's office used the grand jury process improperly.
Louis Lamanna, 50, of Hulton Road, was charged Tuesday with bankruptcy fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and structuring financial transactions.
Prosecutors said he hid his assets from bankruptcy, including bank accounts and a luxury car that he sold. The grand jury said he also conspired with others to structure more than $170,000 in cash withdrawals from accounts at PNC Bank and First Commonwealth Bank to avoid currency transaction reports.
The indictment came on the same day that U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab dismissed another case from September that contains two identical counts — bankruptcy fraud and money laundering — as the new indictment.
Lamanna's lawyer wouldn't comment and neither will the U.S. attorney's office, but the judge is likely to throw out that part of the case again since nothing has changed.
In his previous ruling on Tuesday, the judge said "it is an improper use of the grand jury process, and a violation of the due process rights of [Lamanna], for the government to re-indict a defendant on dismissed felony counts" when that dismissal was part of an earlier plea agreement.
Lamanna, a developer, has had a tangled history with the federal government.
He was first indicted in 2011 for tax evasion and again that same year for tax evasion, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud.
In early June 2012, he worked out a plea deal, but three days later the U.S. attorney's office filed another case against him in a direct complaint for failure to pay income taxes.
Later that month he pleaded to that charge and the parties agreed that the indictment from 2011 would be dismissed at his sentencing.
He was sentenced in November 2012 to a year in prison and ordered to pay some $708,000 in restitution.
But before he actually reported to prison in August 2013, he received $345,000. It's not clear from where and his lawyer would not say, but he didn't tell the judge or the U.S. attorney's office about the money.
He'd been in prison for a month before the criminal investigation division of the IRS found out about it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway said the failure to tell anyone about the money was a breach of the earlier plea agreement.
But instead of filing a motion to that effect with the court, as Judge Schwab said would have been proper, the U.S. attorney's office filed a new indictment in September. Two of the counts, pertaining to bankruptcy fraud and money laundering, were the same ones that had been dismissed at the sentencing in 2012.
Judge Schwab threw out those same counts this week and the U.S. attorney's office filed its newest indictment.
In making his ruling, Judge Schwab said he is "mindful of the important public policy considerations at play." If he were to "countenance the approach taken by the government in this case," he said, "the inevitable result would have a chilling effect on the plea bargaining process, in that defendants would be left with the real possibility that dismissed charges may be re-instated at any time without any judicial intervention."