Winter Park Attorney Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion
May 13, 2014
Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Richard R. Baker (47, Winter Park) today pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Baker faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
According to court documents, Baker has been licensed to practice law in Florida since 1993. In the late 1990s or early 2000s, Baker began to focus his practice on bankruptcy law and started managing and operating his own law office, which was known as the Law Offices of Richard R. Baker.
As a result of his position as an attorney, his training in the law, and his expertise in bankruptcy law, Baker knows that individuals are required to file personal federal tax returns. Despite that knowledge, he failed to timely file his personal federal tax returns from at least 1995 to 2008. From 2002 to 2008, Baker’s total adjusted gross income was approximately $991,008. Because of the amount of gross income that he earned in each of those years, Baker was required by law to file personal tax returns.
In an attempt to evade paying his income taxes, Baker submitted extensions to the Internal Revenue Service for his 2007 and 2008 tax returns. He falsely represented that he owed $0 in taxes. In addition, Baker claimed more allowances than he was allowed for his federal withholding, and he failed to mail to the IRS the W-2 forms that had been prepared for him and the other employees at his business.
On several occasions, Baker was advised that he needed to file his personal and corporate federal tax returns. In October 2009, Baker’s accountant prepared his personal returns for 2002 to 2008. Baker, however, did not file any of those returns at that point. Rather, he continued with his efforts to prevent the IRS from being able to investigate him, which included the submission of a false Collection Information Statement to the IRS, in November 2009, that misrepresented the number of exemptions that he had claimed on his withholding and that omitted two bank accounts controlled by him, containing thousands of dollars. The total amount of unreported income for Baker for 2002 to 2008 was approximately $991,008. The total tax loss for those years is approximately $160,348, which Baker has agreed to pay to the IRS as restitution.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service -- Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.