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Press Release

Sacramento Attorney Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — James Stewart Richards, 69, of West Sacramento, pleaded guilty today to tax evasion, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, between 1994 and 2003, Richards, a member of the California and Hawaii bar organizations, owed federal income taxes totaling over $170,000, which he did not pay. Instead, he took steps to evade payment of some or all of the taxes he owed. He filed a false “Offer in Compromise” to the IRS that omitted bank accounts and six rental properties. He used a nominee bank account for his own assets. When alerted by the bank that the IRS was making inquiries about the nominee account, Richards called the bank and asked that they provide no records to the IRS. He also withdrew $100,000 from the account in cashier’s checks. Richards purchased a yacht that he registered and titled in nominee’s name in order to conceal the asset. Also, he made false statements about his assets to a bankruptcy court and to the IRS.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Nirav Desai are prosecuting the case.

Richards is scheduled to be sentenced on September 10, 2015, by United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. Richards faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated February 4, 2016

Press Release Number: 2:10-cr-089 MCE