Easthampton Attorney Arrested and Charged With Financial Fraud and False Statements to Federal Agents
BOSTON – An Easthampton attorney was arrested on March 31, 2019, and appeared in federal court in Springfield yesterday to face charges for various financial fraud offenses and lying to federal agents.
Phillip R. Williams, 49, was indicted on three counts of wire fraud, two counts of engaging in financial transactions greater than $10,000 of proceeds derived from criminal activity, two counts of money laundering, two counts of tax fraud, and one count of false statements to a federal official. Williams appeared in federal court in Springfield yesterday and was detained pending a hearing scheduled for April 4, 2019.
According to the indictment, Williams was an attorney licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. Williams maintained an Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account at a bank in Massachusetts and was required to hold funds with the care required of a professional fiduciary, for the exclusive benefit of his clients. Between approximately Jan. 29, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, Williams allegedly devised a scheme to defraud two individuals who transferred $950,000 into the Williams Lawyers’ Trust Account. As part of that scheme, Williams stole $453,695 of these funds for his own benefit, his family members, and two associates.
It is further alleged that when Williams electronically filed his self-prepared 2014 Individual Tax Return Form 1040 with the IRS, he failed to report the full amount of the $453,695 that he misappropriated from the Williams Lawyer’s Trust Account. In September 2015, Williams filed an amended 2014 Individual Tax Return, Form 1040x, with the IRS and increased his adjusted gross income from $44,439 to $282,000.
In addition, in July 2015, Williams allegedly told agents that he reported an estimated $300,000 of the stolen funds on his 2014 income tax return.
The wire fraud and money laundering charges provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The $10,000 financial transaction charges provide for a sentence of no greater than10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The tax fraud charges provide for up to three years in prison, a maximum of three years of supervised release, and a fine of $100,000. The false statement charge provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.