A former partner at a leading California financial management company has admitted to embezzling more than $6.5 million from a number of clients including the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Alanis Morissette. The admission was made in papers filed as part of the man's plea arrangement on Jan. 18. The man is facing a raft of white-collar crime charges including wire fraud and filing a falsified personal tax return.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office say that the man took the money, $4.8 million of which was allegedly embezzled from Morissette, for his own personal use and concealed his activities by falsifying his records. According to prosecutors, the man concealed about $1 million by listing it as money spent on another client's home renovations. Morissette filed a lawsuit against the man in 2016 after learning of his alleged embezzlement.
The man is expected to plead guilty to the charges when he appears in court on Feb. 1, and he could be sentenced to up to 23 years in a federal correctional facility. However, legal analysts expect his custodial sentence to be no more than six years. The man will leave prison with a damaged reputation and an eye-watering tax bill. He has admitted to not disclosing any of the money involved on his 2012 personal income tax return, which means that he owes the IRS about $1.7 million in unpaid taxes.
Cases involving white-collar crimes can be highly complex and difficult to prove, but the possible penalties are severe and plea agreements are common. Criminal defense attorneys with experience of fraud and embezzlement cases may seek to have these charges dismissed or reduced when the evidence against their clients is less than compelling. Conversely, they could seek leniency during plea discussions when prosecutors have strong cases and hope for a swift resolution.