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LOS ANGELES � Jurors are expected to begin deliberating today in the criminal trial against civil rights attorney Stephen Yagman. Lawyers on both sides presented closing arguments on Tuesday after four weeks of trial. The federal government has charged Yagman, a partner at Venice Beach, Calif.-based Yagman & Yagman & Reichmann, with failing to pay $158,000 in federal income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Federal prosecutors also claim Yagman hid assets, such as a 2,800-square-foot house in Venice Beach and settlement checks of three cases, from creditors and trustees overseeing bankruptcies filed on behalf of himself and his former firm, Yagman & Yagman. Yagman faces one count of tax evasion, one count of bankruptcy fraud and 17 counts of money laundering. “Although this may seem like a complicated case, it’s really not,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Beong-Soo Kim on Tueday. He said the case is about lies Yagman told in order to avoid paying taxes. “These aren’t little white lies or fibs,” he said. “They’re whoppers.” Yagman’s lawyer, Barry Tarlow, a partner at Los Angeles-based Tarlow & Berk, responded, “I think that this case boils down to some simple questions with complex facts around them.” In 1999, Yagman filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy protection, weeks after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on behalf of Yagman & Yagman. To conceal assets before and during the bankruptcy proceedings, Yagman opened a New York bank account for his law firm, filed a gift tax return after transferring the title of the Venice Beach house to his girlfriend and opened checking and brokerages accounts in his girlfriend’s name, Kim said during his closing argument. Yagman also opened a credit card account with which he financed a lavish lifestyle, including gourmet meals and trips to Aspen, Colo., and London. He also failed to disclose more than $1 million in attorney fees in three cases, including a $125,000 bank check, he said. Kim also noted that Yagman, who testified in the case, had difficulty answering “yes” or “no” to basic questions or recalling his earlier statements in the case. During the closing arguments, Yagman often leaned back in his chair with little expression. In his rebuttal, Tarlow contended that Yagman gave his girlfriend the title to the Venice Beach house as a gift of love, not to evade taxes, and opened the checking account in her name long before his tax troubles began. He accused prosecutors of “character assassination” in bringing up Yagman’s lifestyle and attempted to distinguish Yagman’s actions from those of his former firm, of which he was a 50% owner. He admitted that Yagman failed to mention some assets and expenses in his bankruptcy petition because of mistakes made by his lawyer, not because he intended to commit a crime. But Tarlow noted that Yagman deposited checks that were clearly traceable into accounts in his girlfriend’s name and that the settlements in his cases were publicly available, not hidden. “He’s not running away,” Tarlow said of Yagman. “He’s not putting his money in a suitcase.”

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