The founding partner of a Hartford law firm has had his law license suspended for five years, after being sentenced in December to two years in prison for tax evasion.
Acting on the recommendation of the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Hartford Superior Court Judge David Sheridan ordered Donald McCarthy Jr. suspended from practicing law for five years, effective Jan. 31, 2018.
The 67-year-old McCarthy, an East Hartford resident who authorities said evaded $1.4 million in taxes over a 17-year period, began serving his two-year sentence Jan. 31. He pleaded guilty in October to one count of tax evasion. He is scheduled to be released from prison on Jan. 31, 2020, when he is slated to remain on supervised release for three years. If McCarthy wants to practice law again in Connecticut, he could seek reinstatement of his law license no sooner than Jan. 31, 2023.
The government says McCarthy filed federal personal income tax returns from 1997-99, 2001, 2003 and 2008-2011, but failed to pay outstanding taxes due those years. He also failed to pay interest and penalties that accrued. The government says McCarthy did not file personal income tax returns at all in 2012 and 2014.
An IRS investigation found that McCarthy attempted to evade paying income taxes by depositing his payroll checks into his personal bank accounts and then withdrawing a substantial amount in cash and checks.
In its November memorandum in aid of sentencing, prosecutors wrote that McCarthy’s case was “of particular significance and importance.” The government argued that if an attorney such as McCarthy, who avoided paying more than $1 million in taxes, did not receive a strong sentence that would give incentive for other attorneys to do the same thing.
In his sentencing memorandum, McCarthy argued that his health concerns and past work history should be taken into consideration. His attorneys asked for a more lenient sentence of fines, probation and/or community service, instead of prison time.
Once known as McCarthy, Coombes & Costello, the law firm no longer bears the name of its founding partner. Today, the firm is Costello, Coombes & Brown. While McCarthy’s biography is no longer on the firm website, it was on the site when McCarthy was sentenced in December. At the time, the bio stated McCarthy began his professional career as an attorney with Adinolfi, O’Brien & Hayes, where he focused on medical malpractice and general liability defense. McCarthy had practiced law in Connecticut for more than 35 years.
McCarthy’s attorney, Hartford-based Rome McGuigan principal A. Ryan McGuigan, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.