A Jersey City attorney has been charged with defrauding his clients of more than two million dollars.
According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, James R. Lisa, 67, is charged by indictment with three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. He was arraigned yesterday by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge José R. Almonte, pleaded not guilty and was release on $100,000 unsecured bond.
As described by Sellinger, in 2014, Lisa was retained by a family to help repatriate millions of dollars that had been transferred by other family members to offshore bank accounts decades earlier. Lisa was also retained to help resolve the tax issues related to the repatriation of the funds.
In 2015, Lisa successfully repatriated more than $6 million of the family’s funds, but then falsely told the family that the funds remained offshore. In 2017, Lisa provided $4 million of the repatriated funds to the family but continued to falsely claim that the remaining $2 million remained beyond his control.
Lisa also told the family that he had successfully resolved the tax implications of repatriating the funds and in 2016, sent the family a fraudulent IRS “closing agreement” according to which the family was to pay $3 million in taxes and penalties for the repatriated funds.
In 2018, Lisa sent the family another fraudulent closing agreement reflecting an agreement with the IRS for the family to pay $2 million in taxes and penalties because only $4 million was purportedly repatriated. In fact, the IRS never entered into these agreements and the IRS employees who purportedly signed the documents never did so, according to Sellinger.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a statutory mandatory penalty of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment, and a fine not to exceed $250,000.