The Talent

January 18, 2012 1:40 PM

Ex-Thompson Hine Partner Gets One Year for Tax Fraud

Posted by Brian Baxter

Leslie "Les" Jacobs, a former senior antitrust partner in Thompson Hine's Cleveland office, was sentenced Tuesday to serve a year and a day in prison in connection with his guilty plea on a federal tax fraud charge, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of up to 16 months in prison for Jacobs, who was charged last October with filing false tax returns and overstating his business expenses by more than $250,000.

Represented by lawyers in Cleveland from Ulmer & Berne and Schwartz, Downey & Co., Jacobs entered his guilty plea on November 2, according to our previous reports. He faced up to 21 months behind bars for filing false tax returns between 2004 and 2007 that resulted in more than $75,000 in underpaid taxes.

Jacobs, a 67-year-old Harvard Law School graduate and former president of the Ohio State Bar Association, has repaid that sum in restitution. He was ordered by U.S. district court judge Benita Pearson at his sentencing to pay a $10,000 fine.

Jacobs, who currently resides in the affluent Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills, was also given an additional four months, less one day, of home confinement. He will be on probation for eight months following his release from prison and will serve a period of supervised release.

"I am profoundly ashamed," Jacobs told Pearson in U.S. district court in Youngstown, according to local news reports. "Until I was charged in this case, I had a reputation that my family could be proud of. I want to apologize to everyone I've disappointed by being here."

Pearson reportedly told Jacobs that "you not only bent the law, sir, but you did so until it broke."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Pearson received letters from more than 150 members of the local and national legal communities seeking a lenient sentence for Jacobs. Last year another federal judge removed Jacobs from representing one of his former clients in a corruption case because of the lawyer's own legal problems, according to the Plain Dealer.

"Les Jacobs's guilty plea has nothing to do with his work at the firm and the firm had no involvement with his personal tax returns," said a statement by a Thompson Hine spokeswoman. "This is a regrettable matter for Mr. Jacobs and his family."

The Am Law Daily noted last week that several former Am Law 200 partners have shown up on the legal blotter lately. Among them: ex–Sullivan & Cromwell corporate partner John O'Brien, who was sentenced last week to more than two years in prison for failing to pay millions of dollars in federal taxes.

Last summer, former Kirkland & Ellis restructuring partner Theodore Freedman was charged by federal prosecutors with underreporting his income by more than $2 million during a four-year period between 2001 and 2004. Freedman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.


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