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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Holland Attorney Sentenced For Defrauding Clients And Filing False Federal Income Tax Returns

Suspended Attorney Jeffrey Palmer Embezzled $339,520 From Clients and Failed to Report That Income to the Internal Revenue Service

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — United States Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Jeffrey J. Palmer, a resident of Holland, Michigan, has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for making a false statement on a federal income tax return and executing a scheme to defraud two of his clients. Palmer was ordered to pay restitution to his victims and $55,511 to the United States for tax due and owing (before interest and penalties). Following his release from prison, Palmer will serve an additional three years under supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. The sentence was imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker.

          Earlier this year, Palmer pled guilty to embezzling $339,520 of client trust funds between 2012 and 2016 while licensed and practicing as an attorney in Michigan. He did not disclose to his clients that he was withdrawing their funds for his own personal use and benefit. The government noted at sentencing that one of Palmer’s victims was vulnerable because he was living in a nursing home and lacked the ability to care for himself or manage his finances. Having no surviving spouse or children, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Adult Protective Services, and a Michigan Probate Court ensured that the victim was provided with a guardian and conservator after the fraud was discovered. In addition to the scheme to defraud his clients, Palmer admitted that he failed to report as income the funds he embezzled on his federal income tax returns and in so doing, filed false returns that underreported his income. Upon pleading guilty, Palmer received an automatic interim suspension from the practice of law and now faces disbarment.

          This matter was investigated by the Criminal Investigation section of the IRS (IRS CI) and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. O’Connor.

          U.S. Attorney Birge stated, "IRS special agents worked tirelessly to determine the extent to which Jeffrey Palmer committed fraud against his clients and cheated the federal government out of vital tax revenue. Attorneys in this state solemnly swear an oath to accept no compensation in connection with their client’s business except with their client’s knowledge and approval, and to always act consistent with truth and honor. The hard work of IRS CI determined that Palmer violated this oath for five years before being brought to justice."

          Manny Muriel, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation remarked, "Mr. Palmer was a licensed attorney who greedily embezzled clients’ funds for his own benefit from 2012 through 2016. He misused his authority over funds entrusted to him as a fiduciary and failed to report those funds on his federal income tax return. IRS-CI will vigorously investigate individuals who deceitfully steal money and fail to report income on their income tax returns."

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Updated June 18, 2019