Ocean County, N.J., Attorney Admits Income Tax Evasion And Failing To Pay Payroll Taxes
TRENTON, N.J. – An Ocean County, N.J., attorney admitted today to evading federal income taxes, after hiding assets in an attorney trust account in his wife’s name when he was already in debt to the IRS, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Lee Gottesman, 57, of Toms River, N.J., entered his guilty plea to two counts of the Indictment against him – federal income tax evasion and failing to pay payroll taxes for the employees of his law firm – before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
At the time he committed the crimes, Gottesman operated a law firm in Toms River, where he employed two other attorneys and a legal secretary. In 2002, the IRS filed a levy on Gottesman’s assets because of unpaid taxes. Gottesman then opened a sub-account, within his attorney trust account, in the name of his wife. His wife had never been a legal client of his.
Gottesman ran nearly all of his personal and business expenses through the account, closing all other business and personal accounts held in his name. His payments from the account included more than $90,000 in mortgage payments for his home; more than $17,000 in household expenses, including maintenance on his pool, landscaping services and construction costs; and thousands of dollars in other personal expenses, such as life insurance premiums, auto body repair work and personal credit card payments. The scheme allowed Gottesman to avoid paying personal income taxes on the hidden income.
Gottesman also withheld payroll and other taxes from his employees’ pay, but never filed the required forms or turned the withheld payments over to the IRS.
Gottesman specifically admitted he did not pay all his personal income taxes owed for 2006 or payroll taxes for 2009, but will be responsible for paying all taxes owed from 2006 to the present.
The tax evasion and payroll tax counts to which Gottesman pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 21, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Salvatore Alfano Esq., Bloomfield, N.J.