Southern District of Texas | Personal injury attorney convicted of obstructing justice

Johnnie Pratt

HOUSTON – A 56-calendar year-outdated Houston resident has been found guilty on various counts connected to a intricate tax fraud plan, announced U.S. Lawyer Alamdar S. Hamdani. 

A federal jury convicted Richard J. Plezia for conspiracy as effectively as two counts of generating untrue statements and falsification of a file next a thirty day period-lengthy demo and about 8 hours of deliberation.

“We are a nation of legal guidelines, the place attorneys swear to uphold those laws” claimed Hamdani. “When attorneys, like Plezia, corrupt their oath for their have obtain, this sort of actions can corrode the public’s self esteem in our authorized technique. It is crucial to discourage this sort of conduct, and we are pleased with the jury’s verdict keeping Plezia accountable for his crimes.”

“I can notify you that justice was served and the professionalism of our distinctive brokers from the start out of the situation to the testimony for the duration of the trial is a testament to the remarkable get the job done IRS-Prison Investigation (CI) does to provide conspiracies like this to finality,” said Distinctive Agent-in-Charge Ramsey E. Covington of IRS-CI’s Houston Industry Office. “We are listed here to serve our group by performing with the United States Attorney’s Business office to provide prison routines, exclusively all those with tax and economical ties, to an finish.”

The evidence comprehensive a complicated tax fraud plan in which Plezia funneled about $500,000 via his small business account from legal professional Jeffrey Stern. The dollars was supplied to scenario runner Marcus Esquivel, from whom Stern was illegally purchasing own damage scenarios.   

Individually, Plezia himself was illegally getting conditions from Esquivel and one more situation runner. On his tax returns, Stern took illegal tax deductions for his payments to various runners such as Esquivel. This induced about $4.3 million in tax decline to the IRS. Plezia filed untrue returns, incorrectly claiming the move-via payments from Stern as a result of Plezia to Esquivel as profits and taking corresponding incorrect deductions for marketing and advertising and promotion.

In 2016, Plezia lied to authorities, proclaiming he had not compensated Esquivel for circumstance referrals. Two a long time later, he once again lied. He claimed the about three a long time of move-by way of payments were being the end result of Stern financing a large toxic tort circumstance Plezia was dealing with. To again up his wrong story about the cash circulation, Plezia made falsified paperwork in reaction to a federal grand jury subpoena. These involved an alleged 2010 letter from Plezia to Stern proposing the funding arrangement and invoices allegedly from Esquivel that purported to monthly bill Plezia for products and services on the tort case.

Both of those Stern and Esquivel previously pleaded guilty and provided testimony that the payments by means of Plezia had practically nothing to do with the tort circumstance. The jury read corroborating evidence from a number of lawyers and health-related companies who had been involved in the subject.

U.S. District Choose Lee H. Rosenthal presided more than the demo and set sentencing for Could 31. At that time, Plezia faces up to 20 yrs for the falsification of records and five many years on every of the other convictions.

Plezia was permitted to continue to be on bond pending that listening to.

  

Stern and Esquivel, both of Houston, are also pending sentencing.  

IRS-CI carried out the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Johnson and Richard Bennett are prosecuting the case.

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