[caption id="attachment_10207" align="alignleft" width="290" caption="Stanley Needleman (left). Credit: Rarah"][/caption] Prominent Baltimore criminal-defense attorney Stanley Needleman pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to "tax evasion and structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting large cash receipts and deposits," according to a press release from the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office. The charges against Needleman, initially filed under seal on Aug. 16, were unsealed Aug. 29, after his home and office were raided in April by federal agents who found cash-filled safes.
The press release announcing the guilty plea states that Needleman has agreed to disbarment prior to his sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 15. He also has agreed to forfeit to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) $492,464 "as the proceeds illegally derived from the structuring scheme," according to the press release, and to pay restitution to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the State of Maryland for tax losses amounting to $543,695 and $117,319, respectively. "He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for tax evasion and 10 years in prison for structuring financial transactions," the release continues.
In the press release, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, DEA Special Agent in Charge Ava Cooper-Davis, and IRS acting Special Agent in Charge Jeannine Hammett each made statements about the case. "Stanley Needleman committed tax evasion by omitting $1.5 million of income from his federal tax returns over five years," Rosenstein said, "and he concealed his tax fraud by failing to report large cash receipts from his clients and by breaking up his own up large bank deposits into smaller amounts in an effort to avoid bank reporting requirements.…The defendant probably thought he could avoid detection by hoarding the money in his basement instead of spending it on a lavish lifestyle, but a thorough investigation proved him wrong. This case should help to deter similar crimes by lawyers and other businesspeople who accept cash payments."
The investigation was "a long term, highly complex effort," Cooper-Davis said, adding that "no one is above the law." Hammett said that "those who willfully evade that responsibility will be prosecuted."
On Aug. 31, after the case was unsealed, Kenneth Ravenell entered his appearance as Needleman's attorney. Ravenell could not immediately be reached for comment.