Few Things Stop Bad Lawyering Like The IRS
If there is one thing to learn from the legacies of Al Capone and Frank Lucas, it is this: pay your damned taxes! Here's the fun part, you don't even have to be a big-time boss to benefit from this advice. You know who should have heeded this little bit of wisdom? Mark Carbutti:
Wallingford attorney Mark Carbutti was sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release for tax evasion, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut announced. U.S. District Judge Sarala V. Nagala also ordered Carbutti to repay $750,180 in taxes, interest and penalties.
Carbutti, a personal injury lawyer, reported about $585,025 in income taxes from his legal practice and rental income to the Internal Revenue Service for the 2013 through 2017 tax years, according to court documents.
He received at least 12 notices from the Internal Revenue Service that stated his tax amounts due and how to pay them, but Carbutti evaded paying the taxes, and closed certain personal bank accounts once the IRS levied them. He then deposited the money in limited-liability companies created in association with his real estate holdings, prosecutors said. Carbutti pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion on Dec. 1, 2022.
I'm not sure who has better lawyers between the IRS and Disney, but I'm damned sure I don't want to find out. Listen, if the IRS does the kindness of telling you how much you owe and how you can get them their money, heed them. At least Carbutti had the common sense to listen to the classic adage of not being your own lawyer:
[D]efense counsel William F. Dow of Jacobs & Dow argued that Carbutti's behavior was the result of two significant health issues, and the toll these problems took on his mental health.
"From one perspective, [Carbutti's] case is almost a Netflix caricature," the sentencing memorandum said. "A 40-year-old lawyer gets into booze, drugs and gambling, leaves his wife, ignores his clients, and destroys his law practice in pursuit of a hedonistic lifestyle. Along the way, of course, he doesn't pay his taxes for years. Not a very sympathetic picture and perhaps not a comfortable basis for variance below sentencing guidelines. But that caricature is not accurate."
I'ma keep it real with you, bro -- that sounds pretty damned accurate to me. I know that this would have broken court decorum, but I would have paid at least $13.50 to hear the judge yell out, "Well find the lie then, buddy!" I get it, I get it; you have to defend your client. But giving a laundry list of bad acts and sprinkling it with "my client was merely vibing your honor" isn't as strong a defense as it you'd expect it to be.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord(TM) in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at [email protected] and by tweet at @WritesForRent.