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Disbarred Hudson Valley Attorney Convicted Of Fraud, Other Charges

White Plains Federal Court.
White Plains Federal Court. Photo Credit: File

A former area lawyer who had been disbarred has been convicted on multiple charges for his role in misappropriating funds from a landowner he represented and later attempting to obstruct the IRS from finding out the details of his scheme.

Geoffrey Berman, the United State Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the conviction of Orange County attorney Joseph Scali on Friday in White Plains Federal Court, for charges that include mail fraud, structuring cash transactions, making false statements to the IRS, obstructing the IRS, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

Berman said that from January 2011 through August 2012, Hartford, Conn. resident Scali, 68, was representing the seller of land and mineral rights in Pennsylvania, who gave him $850,000 to hold in escrow. Scali proceeded to misappropriate those funds from his Attorney Trust Account. During that time, he also engaged in tax evasion by deliberately withholding his Attorney Trust Account records from the IRS, which would have revealed the funds he has misappropriated.

Scali was also convicted of attempting to obstruct the IRS by providing false, incomplete and misleading to revenue officers about his filing history and income. He also mixed client funds and personal funds in his Attorney Trust Account, paid for personal items through that account and structured $32,400 in cash deposits into the trust.

According to Berman, Scali also failed to file tax return forms from 2006 through 2012, making false statements to the IRS and structuring cash deposits to cover himself. When attempting to set aside his disbarment, Berman said that Scali also committed obstruction of justice and perjury when he lied under oath about why in 2013 he had been suspended from practicing law.

In 2014 and 2015, Scali also committed mail fraud by fraudulently undertaking a legal representation of a client for a fee without disclosing his 2013 suspension from the practice of law in New York State. 

Scali, was convicted of two counts of mail fraud, one count of structuring cash transactions, two counts of making false statements to the IRS, two counts of tax evasion, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury. He faces up to more than 20 years in state prison when he returns to court on June 1 for sentencing. 

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