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Owen Fiore, a well-known San Jose tax attorney, pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion Tuesday and agreed to pay $626,623 in restitution. He faces a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months based on his offense level under the federal sentencing guidelines. “He accepts full responsibility for his conduct,” said his attorney, Richard Sideman, of Sideman & Bancroft, reading from a prepared statement. “He wishes to express his deep contrition for his conduct and his equally profound apologies to his community, his profession, his friends and his family.” The 70-year-old attorney, a leading expert in estate planning and family trusts, was indicted last November, when prosecutors charged he underestimated earnings of up to $1.5 million over a four-year span. Eight months later he stepped down as a partner of Fiore-Ramsbacher, a move that partner John Ramsbacher says was planned in advance of the indictment. “It doesn’t change the fact that he is still a very knowledgeable lawyer just because he made some mistakes on his income tax,” Ramsbacher said. “Owen is one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever met — he might be a little careless in his bookkeeping.” In the plea agreement, Fiore admitted understating earnings only for the year 1999, though the restitution figure took into account alleged underreporting in three other years contained in the original four-count indictment. Sideman said the other charges against Fiore would be dismissed. State Bar spokesman E. J. Bernacki said Fiore’s case would be reviewed following the sentencing date. Depending on whether the offense involves moral turpitude per se, the State Bar may place him on inactive status and could petition the California Supreme Court for disbarment. The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denier. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 11 before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker.

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