FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
FORMER CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY SENTENCED FOR
TAX FRAUD CONSPIRACY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Tax Division of the Department of Justice announced that former attorney Russell D. Ward was sentenced today by the U.S. District Court in San Diego to serve an eighteen month term of imprisonment for tax fraud. Ward pled guilty on July 25, 2001, to the felony offense of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. The court found that Ward's crime resulted in a loss to the IRS of more than $250,000 in tax revenue.
Ward was admitted to the California State Bar in 1988. He was a solo practitioner in San Diego County before he resigned from the Bar in January 1998.
"Lawyers are supposed to help their clients comply with the law, not help them find ways to violate it," said Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Tax Division. "Tax evaders not only defraud the United States government, they also defraud honest taxpayers."
Ward admitted that he and Dr. Rick A. Shacket, D.O. diverted and concealed a total of $546,350 in taxable income by using several bank accounts, including Ward's attorney-client trust accounts. Ward also admitted that Shacket deducted the diverted funds on his corporate tax returns and failed to report the eventual receipt of the returned funds on his personal income tax returns.
In an indictment returned on August 9, 2001, Dr. Shacket was charged with tax fraud and health care fraud crimes, including conspiring with Ward. Dr. Shacket entered a plea of not guilty on August 10, 2001. His case is scheduled for trial on July 15, 2002.
Denise Rubin, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge for San Diego, stated, "The IRS places a high priority on criminal tax investigations that involve individuals diverting substantial amounts of income over a several year period."
Additional information about tax fraud can be found on the IRS Criminal Investigation website at http://www.ustreas.gov/irs/ci.
The cases are being prosecuted by Tax Division Trial Attorneys Thomas W. Flynn and Brett A. Sagel.