California Bar Journal
CBJ - January 2011 #07.
Pugnacious civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman is summarily disbarred
The California LawyerJanuary 2011Pugnacious civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman is summarily disbarredControversial civil rights attorney STEPHEN G. YAGMAN [#69737], known for his longtime crusade against police brutality, was summarily disbarred Dec. 22, 2010. Yagman, 66, had been on interim suspension since Aug. 23, 2007, following federal convictions of one count each for tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud and 17 counts of money laundering. The State Bar Court's review department found that because bankruptcy fraud is both a felony and involves moral turpitude, it meets the criteria for summary disbarment. It rejected Yagman's argument that the crime does not constitute moral turpitude.
Yagman was convicted of attempting to avoid payment of more than $100,000 in federal taxes and sentenced to three years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing took three days, and the prosecutors' request for a nine-year sentence was reduced to three, as well as two additional years of supervised release after the prison term.
Prosecutors said Yagman transferred his Venice Beach home into his girlfriend's name, hid money by depositing his income in her bank account and declared bankruptcy in New York without disclosing his California assets.
The indictment alleged that Yagman filed federal income tax returns for 1994 through 1997, but paid only a small portion of the taxes that, according to his own returns, were owed and he accumulated federal income tax liabilities totaling more than $158,000. He also failed to pay significant amounts of federal payroll taxes owed during that time by his then-law firm, Yagman and Yagman, P.C.
As part of a scheme to conceal his assets and impede IRS collection efforts, prosecutors said Yagman deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars into various bank and brokerage accounts in his girlfriend's name to disguise his personal assets including approximately $776,000 that was transferred to him by relatives. He used the accounts to pay for personal purchases and to conduct the majority of his personal financial transactions. When he filed both personal and corporate bankruptcy in 1999, prosecutors said he made numerous misrepresentations and omissions.
Yagman claimed he was singled...