Former state senator and attorney John Giannetti has an upcoming day in court.
The state Attorney Grievance Commission has filed a petition for disciplinary or remedial action against Giannetti, chairman of the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee, for not filing state or federal taxes from 2008 through 2015.
The filing came after a monthslong investigation by the commission's bar counsel who filed the petition with the Maryland Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over attorney discipline issues.
It was filed last October, but the first hearing is scheduled for April 28.
The hearing in Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County is where a judge will hear from the bar counsel and Giannetti in order to determine the facts in the case. The judge will make a report and, if warranted, the Court of Appeals will determine whether Giannetti should be disciplined. That could be in the form of a reprimand, suspension or disbarment.
Giannetti said the complaint to the commission stemmed from a long-running child custody battle he has been involved in with a former partner, who made the complaint.
No matter the source of the complaint, the lengthy commission investigation and procedures concluded the court should hear the case.
Giannetti, reached while on vacation in Florida, did not deny he had not filed or made arrangements with federal or state tax officials until after March of last year. He said he was making payments.
"The complaint currently in Circuit Court is focused on late filing of income taxes," Giannetti said. "I have filed and am currently paying the taxes I owed plus penalties and interest payments … to satisfy all the claims."
He said the "final number" had yet to be determined by tax officials.
The Annapolis Democratic Central Committee issued a statement which Vice Chairman Tom McCarthy said was initially drafted last June when the committee became aware of the situation. That is the same month the commission directed the bar counsel to file charges in the matter.
The ADCC statement reads: "In June of 2016, the ADCC received an anonymous allegation that some of John Giannetti's tax returns had not been filed and reviewed official IRS documentation certifying that the tax returns had indeed been filed. The ADCC is therefore satisfied that the issue has been rectified and is unaware of any new information to the contrary."
The petition contends Giannetti did not file timely file state or federal taxes between April 2008 and April 2015. Though he requested and received extensions to file, the petition claims he did not file by the extended dates. When he did file untimely taxes, he did not include payment for taxes owed, though he did make a federal tax payment in 2011 on his 2007 liability.
The document said as of March 7, 2016, he had not made arrangements for payments with the IRS on roughly $38,000 owed and had not determined his liability or arranged a payment plan with the state.
The Circuit Court judge will determine the facts. The judge has 45 days after argument to file his report. The bar counsel and Giannetti will have an opportunity to respond. The Court of Appeals will then fit the case on its docket.
"That could be sometime in the fall," said acting Bar Counsel Raymond Hein, who could not comment on any specifics in the case.
"I understand the need to investigate this matter," Giannetti said. "I have cooperated fully with the commission in its investigation. And whatever the decision of the Court of Appeals, I will abide by that decision."
Giannetti was sanctioned by the commission in 2011 for irregularities in client accounts, lack of proper bookkeeping and notice to clients when deposits were made. No client funds were lost by his activity.
Giannetti was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1998. Then he ran and won election to the state Senate in 2002 in District 21. In 2006, Giannetti was defeated in the Democratic primary by now state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, but when the Republican dropped out of the general election race, Giannetti switched parties to run but was defeated.
Ironically, Giannetti earned national attention when he applied the Heimlich maneuver to Rosapepe who was choking on a piece of fish at an Annapolis restaurant as the 2006 primary was gearing up.