Things Looking Up for Two Ex-Ernst & Young Tax Evasion Specialists; Two Others, Not So Much

For former Ernst & Young lawyers Richard Shapiro and Martin Nissenbaum, things couldn't get much better than a panel of judges overturning the convictions for your roles in selling illegal tax shelters. Their pals Robert Coplan and Brian Vaughn weren't so lucky, however:

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled 2-1 that the convictions weren’t supported by sufficient evidence. The court today also affirmed guilty verdicts against former Ernst & Young tax lawyer Robert Coplan and a former accountant at the firm, Brian Vaughn. The four were convicted after a 10-week trial in 2010.
 
Jurors found that the former Ernst & Young executives sold illegal shelters to wealthy clients based on fraudulent factual scenarios. That helped the clients reduce or eliminate tax liabilities on incomes of more than $10 million. 
 
The scheme generated billions of dollars in paper losses used to offset taxes owed, prosecutors said. The government lost $2 billion in taxes in a scheme that involved about 40 people, the judge said. 
 
The four were members of New York-based Ernst & Young’s VIPER Group, which stood for Value Ideas Produce Extraordinary Results.
As a future reference for any aggressively creative tax avoidance teams out there, it might be wise to dispense with the ominous-sounding group names. It could mean the difference between a very nice lucrative career and a detour through Club Fed.
 

 

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