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Pittsburgh Tax Fraud Suspect Targets Prosecutors

Pittsburgh Tax Fraud Suspect Targets Prosecutors


The defendant in a Pittsburgh tax fraud case is requesting that the judge disqualify the entire local prosecutor's office from working on his case.

Our Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers know this is a rare move, and it remains to be seen whether it will be successful, although in this situation, it appears the defendant may actually have a valid argument.

It comes down to a conflict of interest, which can crop up in many different areas as a case moves its way through the criminal justice system. You want to make sure your defense attorney isn't somehow significantly connected to the prosecutor or to the victim. Same with the judge. But there are other possible conflict scenarios as well.

In this case, the defendant contends that he disclosed information that was crucial to his defense strategy to an attorney. He had been considering hiring this attorney's firm to represent him in this case. However, that lawyer later joined the federal prosecutor's office and was subsequently assigned to his case.

That's a rather unique set of circumstances, but we'll be watching closely to see how the judge rules.

This is a man who was convicted back in the mid-90s for tax and bank fraud. He reportedly oversaw a $31 million check-kiting operation that swindled PNC Bank. for this, he served six years in prison.

He was released in 2002.

At that point, prosecutors say he avoided paying taxes on a number of companies by putting his long-time girlfriend at the helm. They say he underreported his income and outright failed to report certain income and assets, as he was required to do under the plea agreement he took 14 years ago.

Now, however, he has been indicted and is free on $25,000 bond while he awaits trial.

It would be rare for a judge to disqualify an entire prosecutor's office. However, if it is learned that this one attorney shared the defense strategy with several of his collegues, a case could be made that it's necessary. If that happens, it's unlikely the trial would be actually moved. Instead, an outside prosecutor's office would be called on to handle the case.