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November 3, 2009 8:00 AM

Ex-Miller Canfield Partner Gets Five Years for Illegal Tax Shelter

Posted by Brian Baxter

Former Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone partner John Campbell was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday for conspiring to sell fraudulent tax shelters.

Campbell, who plead guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S. in April 2008, had two years of supervised release tacked on to his sentence along with an order to pay $40,763 in restitution. Butzel Long partners David DuMouchel and George Donnini represented him.

Campbell retired in 2007 from Miller Canfield, where he worked in the tax and employee benefits practice for 40 years, heading up the firm's office in Kalamazoo, Mich. He was indicted along with five codefendants in October 2007 on charges he conspired with employees of an insurance company operating out of the U.S. Virgin Islands to create tax shelters that generated $12 million in premiums for wealthy clients.

One defendant plead to a similar conspiracy charge like Campbell's earlier this year and the remaining four defendants were convicted last month by a jury in Grand Rapids after a four-week trial.

Miller Canfield once noted Campbell's inclusion on a list of top-ranked attorneys at the firm. But he's hardly the only Am Law 200 lawyer to have run into legal troubles over suspect tax advice in recent years.

Indictments handed down in a federal investigation of tax shelters used for wealthy clients two years ago ensnared lawyers from Arnold & Porter, Sidley Austin, Proskauer Rose, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, and Jenkens & Gilchrist, which closed its doors after paying a $76 million civil penalty to the IRS.

Former A&P partner Peter Cinquegrani ultimately plead guilty to tax fraud charges stemming from the investigation; ex-Sidley partner Raymond "R.J." Ruble received a six-and-a-half-year sentence for writing letters that blessed bogus tax shelters created by KPMG accountants; and three former Jenkens lawyers are now facing criminal charges. (Click here for a feature story about former Jenkens partner Paul Daugerdas.)

Campbell isn't the only Miller Canfield lawyer coming up against the law recently. In May, of counsel Hatim "Tim" Attalla was one of 74 individuals named in a 35-count indictment against members of a Detroit motorcycle club.

Attalla has since been placed on paid leave by the firm.

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