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Fraud, theft charges dropped in Milwaukee pastor's criminal case

There's a good reason why Wisconsin residents dread the income tax season. Filing income tax returns can be time-consuming, complicated and, unless you're an accountant or tax attorney, rather boring. It can also be very confusing, which is why the IRS rejects thousands of returns every year due to errors.

The more complicated your taxes are, the more prone you are to making errors if you choose to file them on your own. In some cases these errors can look a lot like fraud or theft, regardless of your intentions. If the Internal Revenue Service suspects you've committed a crime, you could find yourself in need of an attorney who focuses on white collar crimes.

The case of a Milwaukee-based pastor who ran a private school is a good example of what happens when the line between error and intentional illegal activity gets blurry. He was indicted on charges of theft of federal funds, wire fraud and filing a false income tax return. But he was able to get some of the charges dropped with the help of his attorney, who said that his defendant made some errors in filing tax returns for the school in 2007.

The charges arose after thousands of dollars from the pastor's church, which funds the school, went toward some of his personal investment properties. According to the plea agreement, he then repaid some of the money back by purchasing a parsonage for the church with his own money.

After the theft and fraud charges were dismissed, the pastor pleaded guilty to filing a false return and agreed to pay more than $68,000 in restitution as part of a plea agreement. He may also spend up to three years in prison, but federal guidelines recommend 10 to 16 months. Although he wasn't able to avoid penalties altogether, the outcome of the case is significantly better than what the pastor might have faced if he'd been convicted of all three charges.

Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pastor pleads guilty to filing false income tax return," John Diedrich, Dec. 5, 2012

  • Our firm has proven experience in cases of fraud, theft or other white collar crimes. To learn more about our practice, visit our Milwaukee white collar crime page.

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