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Manhattan lawyer faces 45 days jail for tax evasion
Lawyer News | 2007/01/09 04:35

A lawyer who avoided paying income taxes for almost 25 years will spend 45 days in jail and pay $1.5 million after pleading guilty to failing to file tax returns, prosecutors said Monday.

Francis K. Decker Jr., who specialized in defending tobacco companies, pleaded guilty Friday, admitting he failed to file personal state and city tax returns since 1998 on $4.5 million in gross income, prosecutors said.

Because Decker, 70, was a partner at a Manhattan law firm, no taxes were withheld from his pay, and he made no quarterly estimated income tax payments as required by law, prosecutors said. However, they said, he signed statements telling the firm he had filed returns and paid his taxes.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Decker, who has homes in Brooklyn and Quogue worth $2 million each, was caught when state officials did a routine review of license databases and found he was a licensed lawyer in New York but was not paying taxes.

A condition of Decker's plea deal is that he must settle with federal tax officials, if necessary, said Assistant District Attorney Daniel Castleman.

Morgenthau said Decker had not filed tax returns since 1982. He said it was ironic that a person who paid no income taxes for decades could avoid detection more easily than someone who occasionally paid but sometimes cheated.

The statute of limitations did not cover income tax offenses before 1999, but Decker agreed to pay going back to 1982.

Besides spending 45 days in jail, Decker will pay a $10,000 fine on each of two counts of failure to file, prosecutors said. He also must pay $779,757 in state and city personal income taxes, interest and penalties for 1999 through 2005 and $720,000 to settle any tax liability for 1982 though 1998. He will be sentenced Feb. 1.

Decker's lawyer, Jonathan Davidoff, said his client "has accepted responsibility for his actions and is very sorry for his past behavior."

"By accepting responsibility," Davidoff said, "Mr. Decker has not only agreed to pay New York state back for past taxes but also is paying society back by pleading guilty and serving the sentence recommended by the district attorney's office."



Illegal immigrants' rearrest rate high
Legal Career News | 2007/01/09 04:30

Illegal immigrants in the US who have been arrested and released within US borders appear to exhibit a markedly high rate of reincarceration, according to a report released by the US Department of Justice on Monday.

The report...judgmentally selected a sample of 100 criminal histories, which we reviewed for evidence of arrests of criminal aliens subsequent to June 30, 2003. The criminal histories for 73 of the 100 individuals documented at least one arrest after that date. Those 73 individuals accounted for a total of 429 arrests, with 878 charges and 241 convictions. These figures represent an average of nearly six arrests per individual. The charges for the 73 individuals ranged from traffic violations and trespassing to more serious crimes, such as burglary or assault....If this data is indicative of the full population of 262,105 criminal histories, the rate at which released criminal aliens are rearrested is extremely high.

The report also found that "most incarcerated aliens are being released into the U.S. at the conclusion of their respective sentences because of a lack of resources to identify, detain, and remove these aliens."



Plaintiff in Halliburton Case to Send Attorneys Packing
Court Feed News | 2007/01/08 19:44

This is an update concerning the Halliburton Securities Litigation. Truth in Corporate Justice LLC (“TCJ”) is Special Counsel to the AMS Fund, Inc. on Securities Matters. It speaks only on behalf of itself or for its client, the Lead Plaintiff, when authorized.

Oakland, CA (PRWeb) January 4, 2007 -- Truth in Corporate Justice LLC (“TCJ”) (www.worldwidetree.org) issues this press release to advise shareholders and the concerned public that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Supporting Fund, Inc. (“AMS Fund”), Lead Plaintiff in the Halliburton Securities Litigation matter, is seeking to substitute lead counsel. This case is entitled: Archdiocese of Milwaukee Supporting Fund, Inc., et al. v. Halliburton Company, et al. (Master Docket No. 3:02-CV-1152-M), a consolidated class action pending in the Northern District of Texas before U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn.

On December 27, 2006, AMS Fund filed its Reply Brief on its Motion to Substitute Counsel. The brief cites numerous reasons for AMS Fund’s request to remove the firms of Scott + Scott and Lerach, Coughlin, Stoia, Geller, Rudman & Robbins as lead counsel in this matter. Truth in Corporate Justice LLC’s founder, Neil Rothstein (a former Scott + Scott partner), Special Counsel to the AMS Fund, stated that this is an unfortunate but necessary change that was unexpected at the time Mr. Lerach’s firm first intervened in this case.

Some of the most important reasons for the change in counsel request, as stated in the Reply Brief filed on December 27, 2006, are the failure of lead counsel to keep AMS Fund fully informed about the status of the case in violation of Pre-trial Order Number Two. Next, according to the Reply Brief, there exists a potentially negative impact on the litigation as a result of the proliferation of media attention surrounding William S. Lerach, which could possibly shift the focus from the merits of the case and turn it into a convoluted battle between Lerach and the government. The conflict: an attorney under federal investigation is representing a lead plaintiff who has brought a lawsuit against a sitting vice president’s former company where he was Chief Executive Officer. The Vice President is not a defendant in this action. The Reply Brief also states that the Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation of Lerach and his former firm, Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach, which has led to the indictment of two of Lerach’s former partners and his predecessor firm, has brought to light facts not disclosed to the Court or Lead Plaintiff.

The AMS Fund is requesting the court to substitute the firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner as lead counsel. The Court has not yet ruled on the motion. Neil Rothstein, founder of TCJ, says that it is unfortunate that another change in counsel is necessary at this time; however, the amount of information that the current lead counsel hid from the Lead Plaintiff clearly does not comport with what is in the best interest of the client or the class. “While the Lead Plaintiff sought to have this transition occur with the dignities of those involved remaining intact, the realities amount to far more than the loss of dignity,” stated Rothstein. “This is not about guilt or innocence; it is about the appearance of impropriety, conflicts of interest, and ethical behavior.”

To read more about this situation, please visit www.halliburtonsecuritieslitigation.com



Bush to deliver his new strategy for war in Iraq
Law & Politics | 2007/01/08 18:56

President Bush will deliver a much-anticipated address to the nation Wednesday night on his new strategy for the war in Iraq. Media reports say the president is expected to announce an increase of as many as 20,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. New Democratic leaders in Congress have already criticized the idea of a surge in forces, saying they do not believe that adding combat troops will contribute to success.

Also Monday, White House officials say President Bush will nominate U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad to be Washington's representative to the United Nations. White House spokesman Tony Snow says U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker will replace Khalilzad in Iraq. Snow says an official announcement is expected from the State Department later today.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Khalilzad would replace John Bolton. Before taking the position in Iraq, Khalilzad served as Ambassador to Afghanistan from November 2003 to June 2005. During that time, he also served as the special presidential envoy to Afghanistan. A report today in The New York Times says Mr. Bush's new Iraq strategy will set a series of goals for the Iraqi government to meet.

The newspaper says the U.S. "benchmarks" will call for Iraqi leaders to draw more Sunni Muslims into the political process and ease restrictions on members of the formerly ruling Baath Party.



Blair condemns manner of Saddam's execution
U.S. Legal News | 2007/01/07 22:03

Nine days after Saddam Hussein was put to the death in a grisly, publicized video sequence that outraged the world, Britain's prime minister has finally conveyed his complete denunciation of it.

Blair's condemnation - delivered by his official spokesman and not by the great leader himself - came after he was roundly criticised for staying silent on the way Saddam was taunted and degraded before being hanged.

Blair's official spokesman said on Sunday that the execution was "completely wrong". He added that the hanging, which mobile phone footage showed was preceded by Saddam being taunted, "shouldn't have happened in that way".

Blair's condemnation, even if at second hand, came just hours after his chief political rival and anticipated successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, said the events around Saddam's hanging were "deplorable" and "unacceptable". Blair has promised he will speak next week - in person - about the grisly events in Baghdad on December 30.

Blair had not officially vouchsafed an opinion on Saddam's hanging till now even though President Bush, Egyptian president Hosni Mumbarak and almost the entire British cabinet, starting with deputy prime minister John Prescott and foreign secretary Margaret Beckett have condemned it. Mubarak called the events around the execution "barbaric".

The prime minister's critics have questioned the extraordinary silence of a leader who has so far been quick to speak out about the deaths of footballers, pop stars, film actors, royal princesses and indeed any subject under the sun.

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell criticised Blair for not commenting, so far: "The prime minister's continuing silence is deafening. His unwillingness to condemn the shameful scenes surrounding Saddam Hussein's execution does him no credit."

Observers said Blair's refusal to discuss Saddam's controversial execution indicated how profoundly uncomfortable he was with the subject. Blair and much of Britain are totally opposed to capital punishment. Despite that, the UK has continued to insist the Iraqi authorities were justified in dealing with Saddam in any way they want.

On Sunday, Downing Street returned to the theme of crime and punishment by insisting that Saddam's crimes and the deaths of Iraqis at his hands should not be forgotten. Declining to confirm precisely when Blair would make his comments on Saddam's hanging, a spokesperson said, "In terms of what he will say next week, we don't think there are going to be any surprises on where he stands. He supports the inquiry by the Iraqi authorities. He does believe that the manner of execution was completely wrong, but this shouldn't lead us to forget the crimes that Saddam committed, including the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."

Blair, who was on holiday in Miami when the hanging was carried out, has only said so far that he is in favour of an Iraqi inquiry into leaked video footage of Saddam's death.



Trash-hauling case attracts lawmakers to D.C.
Legal Career News | 2007/01/07 19:41

Local officials are heading to Washington, D.C., tomorrow to be present for a case going before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case focuses on whether garbage haulers have the right to bring the trash they pick up to any collection point they choose, or whether local communities can require that the trash be taken to a specific location, said Michael Diederich, a Stony Point attorney.

Diederich won't be in Washington tomorrow, but has submitted two briefs on behalf of the Rockland Coalition for Democracy and Freedom, the Rockland County Conservation Association and the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations.

Christopher St. Lawrence, in his capacity as chairman of the Rockland Solid Waste Management Authority, and the authority's legal counsel, Bridget Gauntlett, will both attend the court session tomorrow.

The Rockland Solid Waste Management Authority has also filed a brief allowing it to weigh in on the case, United Haulers Association Inc., etc., v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, and Oneida and Herkimer counties.

St. Lawrence, who is also supervisor of the town of Ramapo, said Friday that communities have the right to manage their waste and to require that it be sent to a specific location for transfer or landfill burial.

He said the health and safety of residents and the environment depended on a community's ability to manage its waste, without having a garbage hauler deciding where it would go.

Diederich represented the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management when United Haulers first sued Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, and Oneida and Herkimer counties, which are located in upstate New York.

United Haulers argued that requiring garbage collectors to bring their trash to a specific location violated the U.S. Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause.

The clause empowers the U.S. Congress "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." The interpretation of the clause has evolved over the years, but it has been used to prevent and break up monopolies.

The haulers argued that the counties and solid waste authority they sued were creating a monopoly in violation of the clause by requiring use of specific disposal facilities.

Diederich successfully argued that waste itself was not an article of commerce, whereas the management of that waste was. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on the case in 2001.

A similar case then made its way through the Sixth Circuit Court, which is based in Ohio. In that case, National Solid Waste Management Association v. Daviss County, the court ruled last year that so-called "flow control" of trash did violate the Commerce Clause.

The U.S. Supreme Court will now attempt to rectify the differing views of the circuit courts, Diederich said.

He also said local residents should be allowed to democratically choose and decide whether their locally generated trash should go to a publicly managed local facility.

"I view this as a worldwide environmental issue," Diederich said. "If you view waste as valuable, you're encouraging more of it."

Instead, he said, it was the management of that waste that should be valued. That management, he said, should include both reducing waste and recycling what had to be collected.



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