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Stanley Needleman Charged With Financial Crimes

August 30, 2011
By

Stanley Needleman (left). Credit: Rarah

Federal criminal charges against prominent Baltimore criminal-defense attorney Stanley Needleman, filed Aug. 16 in Maryland U.S. District Court and kept under seal until yesterday afternoon, accuse him of tax evasion and currency structuring.

A phone message left at Needleman’s office this morning, asking for comment, was not immediately returned. The docket in the case does not list an attorney representing him. The assistant U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case are Sandra Wilkinson and Martin Clarke, according to court documents.  U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Marcia Murphy said the office had no comment.

Needleman’s office and home were raided in a joint operation by the IRS and the Drug Enforcement Administration on Apr. 14, and City Paper learned agents carted off more than $600,000. The charging document reveals that the amount found actually was much more.

“From at least 2005 through April 2011,” the charging document states, “Needleman received at least $1.3 million dollars in cash from criminal defense clients that he affirmatively failed to deposit into his operating account for the purpose of concealing and disguising the source and amount of his income from the IRS. Instead, Needleman hoarded the cash received as fees from his clients in two safes maintained in his home. On April 14, 2011, more than $1,150,000 was found in the safes.”

Needleman was charged in a three-count criminal information, which is not brought by a grand jury, the way an indictment is, but is instead charged by prosecutors.

The tax-evasion count alleges that, “from at least 2005 through April 15, 2010,” Needleman “evaded taxes owed to the United States and the State of Maryland of at least $661,014,” according to the charging documents. The structuring count, which accuses him of making deposits under $10,000 in order to avoid triggering bank-reporting requirements that would alert the Internal Revenue Service of the amount of cash he’d received, involves “more than $492,646” structured “from at least 2005 through April 15, 2011.” The information also includes a forfeiture count, in which the government seeks to take $492,646, the same amount that Needleman is accused of structuring.

Wilkinson and Clarke, in a motion filed yesterday to unseal the information, explain how the case has proceeded since its initial filing on Aug. 16–and reveal that all of the U.S. District Court’s judges in Baltimore have recused themselves from Needleman’s case, which was moved to the court’s Greenbelt division instead.

The information was placed under seal because “the case is of public importance as the Defendant is a practicing criminal defense attorney in Baltimore,” the motion to unseal states, and because “it would have been premature to release the filing . . . prior to the assignment of the case [to a judge] and the scheduling of the initial appearance of the Defendant and the plea proceeding.” On Aug. 17, the motion continues, “Chief Judge Deborah K. Chasanow advised that the judges of the Northern Division”–meaning those presiding in Baltimore’s federal courthouse–“jointly recused themselves from this matter and agreed that the case should be assigned to the Southern Division”–meaning the judges who preside in the Greenbelt courthouse.

Ultimately, the case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Roger Titus in Greenbelt and an initial appearance and plea proceeding was scheduled for Sept. 1 at 11:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr., since Titus was “temporarily unavailable.”

Should Needleman be found guilty of tax evasion, he could be imprisoned for up to five years and face a fine of up to $100,000, while the structuring count could result in up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

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