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Hartford Attorney Sentenced to 8 Months' Imprisonment for Filing False Tax Returns

Law offices of Connecticut Attorney Justin Freeman.

Law offices of Connecticut Attorney Justin Freeman. Courtesy photo

A Hartford-based attorney specializing in family law, personal injury and criminal defense was sentenced late Wednesday afternoon to eight months' imprisonment and one year of supervised release for filing false tax returns that omitted more than $1.2 million in income.

Judge Kari Dooley of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut also ordered Justin Freeman to pay a $4,000 fine. Freeman was released on a $100,000 bond and is required to report to prison on July 1.

The government said Freeman lived a lavish lifestyle with money that should have gone to the Internal Revenue Service. Among other things, the government said, Freeman owned three houses, a boat and six luxury cars.

Freeman, 47, a Manchester resident, faced a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of up to $840,000.

Freeman, who the Statewide Grievance Committee put on interim suspension in February, pleaded guilty to a federal tax charge: one count of filing a false tax return. He paid $419,259 in back taxes and agreed to cooperate with the IRS to pay all outstanding taxes, interest and penalties.

Freeman, whose website describes his practice as "real-world law for real-world people," ran The Law Office of Justin C. Freeman.

According to the November plea agreement between the government and Freeman, the attorney reported $476,228 in total income for 2010, but actually earned $860,041. For 2011, he reported $410,002 in total income while earning nearly $1.1 million, and in 2012, the government said, he reported $529,673 but took in $696,559.

Representing Freeman is James Cowdery of Hartford-based Cowdery & Murphy. Cowdery did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

According to the plea agreement, Freeman waived his right to be indicted when he pleaded guilty. He also agreed to say he signed, under penalty of perjury, a 1040 IRS form that he caused his tax preparer to prepare and file with the IRS.

"Freeman signed those tax returns and caused them to be filed with the IRS willfully, that is, with the specific intent to violate the tax laws," the plea agreement stated.

In the defendant's April 17 memorandum in aid of sentencing, his attorneys recommended a sentence of one-year probation, including a term of six months of home confinement.

In asking for that sentence, the memorandum notes that Freeman "has accepted responsibility for his conduct and has worked extremely hard to make things right."

"Even before entering his plea, Mr. Freeman executed the necessary IRS documents to assess the taxes, penalties and interest he owed as a result of his offense, and then he fully paid the taxes due—$419,259, which is the agreed-upon restitution in this case," the pleading argued.

The defense memorandum also said: "Without question, this case marks the lowest point in Mr. Freeman's life."

In its April 24 memorandum in aid of sentencing, the government said Freeman enjoyed a charmed life because of his failure to pay taxes.

"He enjoyed the spoils of his considerable success with three personal residences, a Ferrari, Maserati, BMW, Mercedes, two Cadillac Escalades and a boat," the filing argued. "But Freeman's success was not quite what it seemed. For tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012, Freeman failed to report over $1.2 million in income, and over five consecutive years, engaged in a back and forth with the IRS designed to forestall enforced collection action and avoid paying what he owed."

The government also said "a term of imprisonment in this case is necessary to disabuse others of the notion that they may ignore (or tactically avoid) their tax obligations and then blame ineptitude, inattention, or their tax professionals for their transgressions."

 

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