The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that former Lackawanna County Attorney Danielle Ross Pietralczyk, age 37, of Jermyn, Pennsylvania was sentenced today to one year imprisonment for federal income tax fraud by Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo in federal court in Wilkes-Barre.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Ross failed to report any amounts of income she received from private paying clients while acting as the sole guardian ad litem for the Lackawanna County Family Court on her personal federal income tax returns for calendar year 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Ross pled guilty to filing a false return for 2009 in December 2013. Her husband, Walter Pietralczyk, pled guilty to a tax misdemeanor charge in connection with the joint personal tax return of the couple in December 2013. No sentencing date has been set.
As the sole guardian ad litem for the Lackawanna County Family Court, Ross was paid an annual compensation of $38,000. Pursuant to a contract between Ross and Lackawanna County, Ross was permitted to bill private paying parties above her County compensation at a rate of $50 per hour. The only income Ross reported for 2009 and 2010 was her County compensation reported on 1099 Forms which she received as an independent contractor hired by Lackawanna County. The government alleged that Ross managed and exercised complete control over her private billings and income. That income was known only to Ross and not Lackawanna County, nor was Lackawanna County required to approve Ross’s private billings.
The guardian ad litem serves as the representative of the interest of children in family court. Ross was dismissed as Lackawanna County guardian ad litem in February 2013 after her indictment on the federal tax charges. Her license to practice law was suspended in December 2013.
The prosecution was the result of a joint investigation by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.
In addition to the one year prison sentence, Ross was sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $63,124 plus interest and penalties. Ross is scheduled to report to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons on May 12, 2014.