News and Press Releases

Two lawyers charged with structuring $354,000 into their attorney trust account

November 16, 2011


NEWARK, N.J. – Two lawyers with a Fairfield, N.J., law firm, made their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court on charges of structuring $354,000 in client funds into their attorney accounts.

Goldie Sommer, 61, of Montville, and Edward Engelhart, 61, of Rockaway, attorneys with the firm of Sommer and Engelhart, were charged by Complaint with conspiring to structure transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements. They surrendered to IRS agents in Newark immediately before their initial court appearance this afternoon.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Between Aug. 13, 2010, and Sept. 22, 2010, Sommer and Engelhart made numerous deposits totaling $354,000 into their attorney trust account in large, even dollar amounts. None of these deposits were made in an amount greater than $10,000, the amount that would have triggered the filing of a currency transaction report (“CTR”) with the IRS.

CTR forms require disclosure of the identity of the individual who conducted the transaction and the individual or organization for whom the transaction was completed. Many individuals involved in illegal activities, such as narcotics trafficking, tax evasion, and money laundering, are aware of these reporting requirements and take active steps to cause financial institutions to fail to file CTRs in order to avoid detection of the movement of large amounts of U.S. currency. These steps are referred to as “structuring” and involve making multiple cash deposits or withdrawals in amounts of $10,000 or less on the same day or consecutive days in order to avoid the filing of CTRs. Structuring transactions to avoid the filing of a CTR is prohibited by law.

Judge Dickson set bail for Sommer and Engelhart at $100,000 each.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff in Newark, with the investigation.

The charges and allegations contained in the Criminal Complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Weitz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.


Defense counsel:
Sommer: Jack Arsenault Esq., Chatham, N.J.
Engelhart: Howard Brownstein Esq., Union City, N.J.

Sommer, Goldie & Engelhart, edward Complaint

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