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Press Release

Former Jenkens & Gilchrist Attorney Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 15 Years In Prison For Orchestrating Multibillion-Dollar Criminal Tax Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Paul M. Daugerdas Personally Received More Than $95 Million In Fees From Tax Shelter Scheme That Generated Over $7 Billion Of Fraudulent Tax Deductions

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ronald A. Cimino, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, announced that PAUL M. DAUGERDAS, a tax attorney and certified public accountant, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 15 years in prison for orchestrating a massive fraudulent tax shelter scheme in which he and his co-conspirators designed, marketed, and implemented fraudulent tax shelters used by wealthy individuals to evade over $1.6 billion in taxes owed to the IRS. The 20-year scheme, which DAUGERDAS hatched while working at the Arthur Andersen accounting firm and then continued while a partner at two law firms - Altheimer & Gray and then Jenkens & Gilchrist - generated over $7 billion of fraudulent tax losses and yielded approximately $95 million in fees to DAUGERDAS personally. DAUGERDAS was convicted in October 2013 following an eight-week jury trial, presided over by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Paul Daugerdas used his legal and accounting expertise to cheat the system and unlawfully deprive the government of over $1.6 billion of tax revenue. With today’s sentence, Daugerdas’s giant tax fraud scheme has reached its just conclusion under the law, with a sentence of 15 years in prison.”

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ronald A. Cimino said: “Dishonest professionals who market tax fraud schemes to their clients need to sit up and take note of today’s sentence. The Justice Department and IRS are committed to holding responsible those who would misuse their skills and expertise to help others to evade their lawful tax obligations.”

According to the evidence at trial and other documents filed in the case:

From 1994 through 2004, DAUGERDAS, a lawyer, certified public accountant, and the former head of the Chicago office of the Jenkens & Gilchrist law firm (“J&G”) and its tax practice, participated in a scheme to defraud the IRS by designing, marketing, implementing, and defending fraudulent tax shelters.

As part of the scheme, DAUGERDAS and others schemed to defraud the IRS by, among other things, corruptly endeavoring to prevent the IRS from: (i) detecting their clients’ use of these shelters; (ii) understanding how the transactions operated to produce the tax results reported by the clients; (iii) learning that, rather than serving as legitimate investment transactions, the tax shelters lacked “economic substance” in that they were designed and marketed as cookie-cutter products intended exclusively to eliminate or reduce large tax liabilities; (iv) learning that the clients were not seeking profit-making investment opportunities, but were instead seeking huge tax benefits; and (v) learning that, from the outset, all the clients intended to complete a pre-planned series of steps that had been designed to lead to the specific tax benefits sought by the clients. DAUGERDAS and others created, and assisted in creating, transactional documents and other materials that falsely and fraudulently described their clients’ motivations for entering into the tax shelters and for taking various steps in order to yield the tax benefits.

As part of the scheme to defraud the IRS, DAUGERDAS and his co-conspirators also fraudulently backdated some of the tax shelter transactions. In particular, DAUGERDAS and his co-defendants learned that certain tax shelter transactions had been implemented incorrectly during the year of the transactions, in that they failed to produce the amount or type of tax losses requested by the clients. Rather than reporting those tax shelter results as they occurred - as required by the Internal Revenue Code - DAUGERDAS and others engaged in corrupt “correcting” transactions after the close of the pertinent tax years, and then backdated the tax shelter documents to make it appear as if the amount and type of tax losses sought by the clients had in fact been generated during the pertinent tax years. DAUGERDAS also authored fraudulent tax opinion letters that falsely described when certain aspects of the transactions had actually occurred. As a result of the fraudulent backdating, DAUGERDAS and others caused tax shelter clients to file tax returns that falsely and fraudulently claimed tens of millions of dollars of tax losses to which the clients were not entitled.

As a result of the scheme, DAUGERDAS and his co-conspirators made millions of dollars in fees and bonuses. Specifically, DAUGERDAS made $95 million in profits, but used tax shelters to reduce the taxes he paid to less than $8,000; without the shelters, he would have owed over $32 million in taxes.

DAUGERDAS, 63, of Wilmette, Illinois, was convicted of conspiring to defraud the IRS, to evade taxes, and to commit mail and wire fraud, and of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the internal revenue laws. He was also convicted of four counts of tax evasion relating to the use of various tax shelters for specified clients, and of mail fraud.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Pauley ordered DAUGERDAS to forfeit $164,737,500 in proceeds of the offenses, which included certain assets of DAUGERDAS’ that had been seized and frozen at the time DAUGERDAS was indicted. The forfeited proceeds include a lakefront home on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and over $20 million in various securities and financial accounts. Judge Pauley also ordered DAUGERDAS to pay restitution to the IRS of $371,006,397. At sentencing, Judge Pauley said that DAUGERDAS “was at the apex of tax shelter racketeers who tapped into the greed of the super-wealthy who did not want to pay taxes.”

In connection with this same scheme, David Parse, a former broker at Deutsche Bank, was convicted of various tax fraud charges in May 2011 after an 11-week jury trial, and was sentenced in March 2013 to 46 months in prison. Donna Guerin, a former lawyer at J&G’s Chicago tax practice, pled guilty for her role in the scheme to various tax fraud charges in September 2012. She was sentenced in March 2013 to eight years in prison.

Former J&G partner Erwin Mayer, former BDO Seidman Vice Chairman and board member Charles W. Bee, Jr., former BDO principal and former member of BDO Seidman’s TSG and Tax Opinion Committee Michael Kerekes, former BDO Seidman Vice Chairman and TSG member Adrian Dicker, BDO Seidman partner Robert Greisman, and BDO Seidman partner Mark Bloom have all previously been convicted in connection with the scheme.

Mr. Bharara thanked the IRS and the Tax Division of the Department of Justice for their work on this case.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stanley J. Okula, Jr. and Niketh Velamoor, and DOJ Tax Division Assistant Chief Nanette L. Davis are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 14-187