Joseph A. DiRuzzo, III of Fuerst Ittleman petitions the Supreme Court of the United States for a Writ of Certiorari

Feb 22, 2012   

On February 22, 2012, Joseph A. DiRuzzo, III, Esq., CPA, a senior tax associate at Fuerst Ittleman, filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court in United States v. John M. Crim. Mr. Diruzzos Petition is available here.

The Petition seeks to review a decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part, a judgment of conviction for a violation of 18 U.S.C. section 371 (a Klein conspiracy) and a violation of 26 U.S.C. section 7212(a) (interfering with the due administration of the Internal Revenue Code).  The Third Circuits decision is available here.

The background of the case is as follows.  On November 28, 2006, an indictment was filed against John Michael Crim (“Crim”) and other co-defendants, charging them in Count One with conspiracy to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  On April 24, 2007, a superseding indictment was filed against the Crim and other co-defendants, charging them again with conspiracy to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.  Crim was also charged in Count Two of the Superseding Indictment with corruptly endeavoring to interfere with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a). 

Count One of the superseding indictment alleged that Crim was the co-founder of an organization known as the Commonwealth Trust Company (“CTC”).  Count One charged as follows: “[f]rom at least January 2000 through at least July 2003, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, defendants [Crim and co-defendants] conspired and agreed, together with others known and unknown to the grand jury, to commit an offense against the United States, that is, to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the [IRS] of the Department of the Treasury, in the ascertainment, computation, assessment, and collection of income taxes.”

Count One further alleged that: “CTC marketed two domestic fraudulent trust packages and one offshore fraudulent trust package to its clients. The domestic trust packages consisted of a Pure Trust Organization (“PTO”) and a Private Company Trust (“PCT”). The offshore trust package consisted of an Internationally-based Corporation (“IBC”). In the domestic trust PCT system, CTC instructed clients to remove funds earned from legitimate businesses and, instead of paying income tax on those funds, to divert that income through a series of domestic trusts under the clients control. CTC represented to its clients that, by diverting the income through a series of trusts, the clients could escape paying taxes on that income or could significantly reduce the amount of taxes they owed. CTC also instructed clients to transfer assets they already owned into CTCs other domestic fraudulent trust package, the PTO, to conceal and protect real and personal property from IRS levies and seizure attempts.” Count One alleged that Crim was the Head Trustee of CTC, a member of the CTC Executive Board, and a promoter of CTC trust products.

In the “manner and means” segment of the superseding indictment, Count One alleged that it was part of the conspiracy that Crim and others “met with taxpayers within the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and elsewhere to solicit and maintain clients for CTCs offshore and domestic trust packages by falsely representing that taxpayers could lawfully avoid paying income taxes by placing their income and assets into CTCs trust packages.”

Count Two charged that, on May 10, 2002, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Crim and other co-defendants corruptly endeavored to obstruct and impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue laws by speaking at a conference to CTC clients at which the defendants intended to cause the fraudulent use of CTC products by teaching the CTC clients how to engage in sham paper transactions that would result in the concealment from the IRS of clients property and of their receipt of income.  According to the Superseding Indictment, all of this violated 26 U.S.C.  § 7212(a).

On January 7, 2008, the trial began against Crim and co-defendants Taylor, Paul Crim, and Brownlee, before the Honorable Anita B. Brody and a petit jury.  On January 25, 2008, the District Court charged the jury. On January 28, 2008, the jury returned guilty verdicts against Crim on Count One (18 U.S.C. § 371) and Count Two (26 U.S.C. § 7212(a)).  On July 7, 2008, the District Court sentenced Crim to 96 months imprisonment on Count One and Count Two, with each count to be run concurrently.  Restitution was ordered to the government in the amount of $17,242,806.57. 

Mr. DiRuzzo did not represent any of the defendants at trial but was retained by Mr. Crim for representation before the United States Supreme Court. The Petition for Writ of Certiorari presents the following discrete questions:

Whether, in light of the Courts holding in United States v. Aguilar, 515 U.S. 593, 132 L. Ed. 2d 520, 115 S. Ct. 2357 (1995), and its progeny, the Court of Appeals erred in failing to conclude that the “Omnibus Clause” of 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a) requires the prosecution prove that a criminal defendant have (i) knowledge of some pending Internal Revenue Service action of which the criminal defendant was aware, and (ii) that there be a “nexus” between a criminal defendants actions and the actions taken by a third-party, which is also contrary to a decision of another circuit.

The Petition argues that the Third Circuits opinion is contrary to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, in Aguilar, and is in conflict with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in United States v. Kassouf, 144 F.3d 952 (6th Cir. 1998), which held that “due administration of the Title [26] requires some pending IRS action of which the defendant was aware.”  Id. at 957. 

The attorneys at Fuerst Ittleman handle cases involving complex litigation (including income tax litigation) at the District Courts, the Court of Federal Claims, Circuit Courts, and if necessary in the U.S. Supreme Court.  You can reach an attorney by emailing us at contact@fidjlaw.com, or by calling us at 305.350.5690.