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Santa Monica Attorney Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Lookout Staff

December 4, 2012 –A Santa Monica attorney was sentenced Monday to three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $2 million in restitution for schemes to evade taxes and misappropriate client fees, according to the IRS, which investigated the case.

Robert M.L. Baker III, who owns a law firm on 20th Street and Wilshire Boulevard, also was sentenced to three years of supervised release following imprisonment.

Baker, 46, pleaded guilty in January to “willfully subscribing and filing false tax returns in a conspiracy to commit tax fraud,” said IRS Special Agent Felicia McCain.

According to the plea agreement, Baker admitted that he “along with others devised a scheme to misappropriate client fees and settlements in order to evade payment of his tax obligations,” McCain said.

Judge Otis D. Wright ordered Baker to pay $1,140,879 in restitution to the IRS and $916,000 in restitution to a victim.

“Baker utilized shell entities and trusts to hide over $900,000 in client fees and assets from the Internal Revenue Service, including a house located in Westwood,” McCain said.

“Baker also submitted a false offer and compromise form by mail and filed false tax returns with the IRS in attempts to evade over $1million in tax.”

He changed his banking practices to further his conspiracy, IRS officials said.

“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 handling clients to mail and wire funds to nominee bank accounts,” McCain said.

Under the the plea agreement, Baker will file amended corporate and individual tax returns “correctly reporting gross receipts and deductions,” as well as make restitution, she said.

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