A Santa Monica attorney has been sentenced to three years in prison and was ordered to pay just over $2 million in restitution after he plead guilty to willfully filing false tax returns, officials with the Internal Revenue Service said.
Robert M.L. Baker III, a probate attorney with an office on Wilshire Boulevard, was sentenced on Monday by Judge Otis D. Wright. In addition to the prison term, Baker will serve three years of supervised release and must pay $1,140,879 to the IRS and $916,000 to an undisclosed victim.
Baker, 46, plead guilty on Jan. 25 to willfully subscribing and filing false tax returns in a conspiracy to commit tax fraud. According to the plea agreement, Baker admitted that he, along with others, devised a scheme to misappropriate client fees and settlements in order to evade payment of his taxes.
Baker used shell entities and trusts to hide over $900,000 in client fees and assets from the IRS, including a house in Westwood, officials said. Baker also submitted a false offer and compromise form by mail and filed false tax returns to evade over $1 million in taxes.
Officials said he altered his banking practices by using nominee bank accounts, converting client fees to cashier’s checks to pay personal expenses, altering checks and directing clients and other law firms handling clients to mail and wire funds to nominee bank accounts.
As part of the plea agreement, Baker will file amended corporate and individual tax returns.
Calls to Baker’s law office were not returned.