Two Lawyers Admit Structuring $354,000 Into Their Attorney Trust Account
NEWARK, N.J. – Two lawyers with a Fairfield, N.J., law firm today admitted they structured $354,000 in client funds into their attorney accounts to avoid currency reporting requirements, U. S. Attorney Paul Fishman announced.
Goldie Sommer, 61, of Montville, and Edward Engelhart, 61, of Rockaway, attorneys with the firm of Sommer and Engelhart, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court to conspiring to structure transactions to avoid reporting large amounts of currency. They had surrendered to IRS agents in Newark on Nov. 16, 2011.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Between Aug. 13, 2010, and Sept. 22, 2010, Sommer and Engelhart made numerous deposits totaling $354,000 into their attorney trust account in large, even dollar amounts. None of these deposits were made in an amount greater than $10,000, the amount that would have triggered the filing of a currency transaction report (“CTR”) with the IRS.
CTR forms require disclosure of the identity of the individual who conducted the transaction and the individual or organization for whom the transaction was completed. Many individuals involved in illegal activities, such as narcotics trafficking, tax evasion, and money laundering, are aware of these reporting requirements and take active steps to cause financial institutions to fail to file CTRs in order to avoid detection of the movement of large amounts of U.S. currency. These steps are referred to as “structuring” and involve making multiple cash deposits or withdrawals in amounts of $10,000 or less on the same day or consecutive days in order to avoid the filing of CTRs. Structuring transactions to avoid the filing of a CTR is prohibited by law.
The charge to which Sommer and Engelhart pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen in Newark, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Weitz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit in Newark.
Sommer: Erich H. Jaso Esq., New York
Engelhart: Howard Brownstein Esq., Union City, N.J.