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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

Friday, February 6, 2015

Former Martin County judge pleads guilty in federal court for failing to file income tax return

Loogootee attorney failed to pay over $66,000 in taxes from law firm income




EVANSVILLE - Josh J. Minkler, Acting United States Attorney, announced today the guilty plea of a Loogootee man who failed to file his federal income tax returns for 2012. Robert Joseph Howell, 51, was found guilty today before U.S. District Chief Judge Richard L. Young.

Howell, operated Howell Law Firm PC in Loogootee, IN, performing legal services for clients. In 2012, the firm had gross receipts of approximately $450,000, including a $300,000 fee he received from a wrongful death insurance settlement.

Howell’s return preparer initially filed an extension for the 2012 tax year which expired in October 2013. When the accounting firm sent Howell an invoice, he chose not to pay the invoice or his owed taxes. He failed to file business or personal returns in 2012, resulting in a tax debt of over $66,000. According to testimony in court, over $265,000 was withdrawn from his personal and business accounts at casinos in Evansville and French Lick.

Howell formerly served as a circuit court judge and prosecutor in Martin County.

Acting United States Attorney Josh Minkler stated, “taxes are a fundamental responsibility we all owe to help maintain infrastructure, schools and public safety services. When someone willfully neglects that responsibility, they will be held accountable.”

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

According to Assistant United States Attorney James M. Warden, who prosecuted the case for the government, Howell faces up to one year in prison, a fine up to $100,000, and must pay full restitution to the IRS. Sentencing is scheduled for May 11, 2015, in Evansville.

Updated February 6, 2015