Tax evasion occurs when individuals, businesses or trusts deliberately avoid or try to pay less than they owe in taxes. It most often involves the party deliberately misrepresenting the true value of assets. There are serious consequences for such action, as is demonstrated by the case of one California attorney, James Stewart Richards, based out of Simi Valley, who now faces disbarment for the offense. 

A court convicted Richards in 2015 for tax evasion, and the California State Bar Court has now recommended he face disbarment for his actions. Additionally, the state bar court has recommended Richards must pay all costs associated with the conviction. For now, the court has placed Richards on an involuntary inactive enrollment, which means he is an inactive member of the State Bar Association until the matter reaches a conclusion. The case is currently awaiting the decision of the California Supreme Court.

Richards’ actions

At the time of his conviction, Richards owed over $170,000 for taxes he failed to pay from 1994 to 2003. He had already been a member of the California State Bar Association since 1972, and he also became a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association in 1986. Aside from the tax evasion, Richards had a relatively spotless record except for one small incident that occurred in 1993, which stated he failed to perform with confidence for one case in Hawaii. 

The trial

Richards received his conviction for tax evasion in June of 2016. The previous January, Richards, who was 69 at the time, received a sentence from a judge with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The judge sentenced him to two years in prison. All this followed a guilty plea he submitted prior to June. He did not appear for his trial in February, which led to a default added to his record.