Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Santa Monica Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Robert M.L. Baker III, owner of Robert M.L. Baker III Law Offices in Santa Monica, has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for tax fraud, the Internal Revenue Service reported yesterday.
Baker, 46, was also ordered by Judge Otis D. Wright Monday to pay $1,140,879 in restitution to the IRS and $916,000 in restitution to a victim for a total of $2,056,879, the IRS said in a release.
Baker, a State Bar-certified legal specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, pled guilty Jan. 25 to willfully subscribing and filing false tax returns in a conspiracy to commit tax fraud. He also admitted that he and others devised a scheme to misappropriate client fees and settlements in order to evade payment of tax obligations.
As part of the scheme, Baker utilized shell entities and trusts to conceal $900,000 in client fees and assets, including a house located in Westwood, the IRS said. He also submitted a false offer and compromise form by mail and filed false tax returns with the IRS in attempts to evade over $1 million in tax obligations.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, Baker used nominee bank accounts, converted client fees into cashier’s checks to pay personal expenses, altered and cashed checks, and directed clients and other law firms representing them to mail and wire funds to nominee bank accounts. In addition to making restitution, Baker has agreed to file amended corporate and individual tax returns correctly reporting gross receipts and deductions, the IRS said.
State Bar records show that Baker, a graduate of UCLA and Southwestern Law School, was admitted in 1992 and was placed on interim suspension in May as a result of his conviction.
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