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LOS ANGELES �� Civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in federal prison after being convicted earlier this year on bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered Yagman, 63, a partner at Venice Beach, Calif.-based Yagman, Yagman & Reichmann, to begin serving his sentence on Jan. 15. He also sentenced Yagman to two years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay the government the costs of his prosecution. Wilson said he imposed a “serious sentence” after being “shocked” by Yagman’s testimony, which he called “so transparently untrue in so many areas,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, which prosecuted the case. Yagman is well known for having filed numerous civil rights suits against the Los Angeles Police Department over the years. He also was among the first lawyers to file a suit on behalf of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of nine years in prison, citing Yagman’s “prolonged, sophisticated and calculated behavior,” according to court papers. They said Yagman failed to pay $158,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, plus payroll taxes on behalf of his former firm, Yagman & Yagman, from 1994 to 1997. He also hid assets, such as a 2,800-square-foot house in Venice Beach, from creditors and trustees who were overseeing bankruptcies filed on behalf of himself and his former firm. His lawyer, Barry Tarlow, a partner at Los Angeles-based Tarlow & Berk, sought a sentence of two to four years. At one point early in the sentencing hearing, Tarlow said there was “no question there was a scorched early policy in this case.” Yagman, who spoke during a three-day sentencing hearing, attributed the errors in his bankruptcy and tax filings to sloppiness and bad judgment. He also said he was distracted during that time in his life. He was convicted on one count of tax evasion, one count of bankruptcy fraud and 17 counts of money laundering (Wilson later acquitted Yagman on six money laundering counts). A pre-sentencing report had recommended about 5 1/2 years.

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