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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Suspended Sacramento Attorney Sentenced To 46 Months For Tax Crimes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Donald M. Wanland, 56, resident of El Dorado Hills, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton to 46 months in prison for convictions on 28 criminal counts, including tax evasion, failing to file tax returns, and removing, depositing, and concealing assets from the IRS in defiance of a levy, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

Wanland is a Sacramento-area attorney who was convicted of the 28 tax-related counts on September 26, 2013, after a two week jury trial.  During sentencing today, Judge Karlton noted that lawyers have a “special duty” and stated, “it is particularly distressing when a lawyer just disregards the law.”  On February 19, 2014, the California State Bar placed Wanland on interim suspension as a result of his convictions, and he is currently not eligible to practice law. 

Wanland stated to the Court at sentencing today that his conduct was driven by “greed, selfishness, and contempt.”  According to evidence introduced at trial, Wanland evaded paying taxes for years. For tax years 2000 through 2003, he filed tax returns showing gross income of more than $1.5 million, for which he admitted owing taxes of $448,451. But he paid nothing. When the IRS tried to collect, Wanland concealed the bank accounts that he used to receive and spend his income, and then filed no tax returns at all for years 2004 through 2007. He continued working for his law firm and received more than $1 million total during those years. When the IRS placed levies on his income in April 2005, Wanland repeatedly defied the levies by continuing to funnel his income to the concealed nominee accounts. He spent the money on various items including a $2,700 weekend at Squaw Valley Ski Resort, payments on a Mercedes Benz and a Cadillac Escalade, gambling at Las Vegas casinos, vacations to Mexico and Hawaii, limousine services, and expenses for the pool at his home in El Dorado Hills. He also withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and wrote hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks out of the concealed accounts. 

“One of the obligations of American citizenship is to pay federal income taxes, and most people recognize that obligation” said U.S. Attorney Wagner.  “It is particularly offensive when someone who has profited from the bounty of this society, like Don Wanland, shirks that duty.  The fact that he will be contemplating his crimes from prison should send a message to others that no one is too busy, too clever, or too wealthy to comply with the tax code.”

“This is not a case of someone who simply fell behind in a good faith effort to keep up with their taxes,” said José M. Martínez, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Mr. Wanland is a lawyer who refused to obey the law and used his legal knowledge to cheat the federal and state governments out of more than $2.2 million.  Those who intentionally undermine our tax system should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable.”

According to court documents, Wanland tried to challenge the amount of tax loss connected to his by claiming his tax debts had been later discharged in a bankruptcy.  The Court rejected this argument, noting that federal bankruptcy law automatically precluded Wanland’s tax debts from being discharged in bankruptcy because he engaged in willful tax evasion.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Segal and Christopher S. Hales prosecuted the case.

Wanland has been in custody since the date of his conviction on September 26, 2013.  Following sentencing, he was remanded into the custody of the United States Marshal to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 2:09-cr-00008 LKK
Updated April 8, 2015