1120 IRS Tax Form 1120 IRS Tax Form. (Photo: RomanR/Shutterstock.com)

A Hartford-based attorney specializing in family law, personal injury and criminal defense has pleaded guilty to substantially underreporting the income he received from his law practice over three years.

Justin Freeman, 46, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal tax charge: one count of filing a false tax return.

Judge Kari Dooley of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut will sentence Freeman Feb. 20 in Bridgeport.

Freeman, a Manchester resident, faces a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of up to $840,000 when he is sentenced.

The solo practitioner, who ran The Law Offices of Justin C. Freeman has, according to the government, paid $419,259 in back taxes and agreed to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service to pay all outstanding taxes, interest and penalties.

According to the Nov. 28 plea agreement between the government and Freeman, the attorney reported $476,228 in total taxes for 2010 but actually earned hundreds of thousands more: $860,041. For 2011, he reported $410,002 in total income while earning nearly $1.1 million, and in 2012 he reported $529,673 but took in $696,559.

According to the plea agreement, hammered out between the government and signed off on by Freeman and his attorney, James Cowdery of Hartford-based Cowdery & Murphy, Freeman waived his right to be indicted when he pleaded guilty. He also agreed to say he signed, under penalty of perjury, a 1040 IRS Form that he caused his tax preparer to prepare and file with the IRS. “Freeman signed those tax returns and caused them to be filed with the IRS willfully, that is, with the specific intent to violate the tax laws,” the plea agreement states.

The 11-page plea agreement also states that the court may impose a term of supervised release of not more than one year to begin with any term of imprisonment. If Freeman violates the condition of the supervised release, the plea agreement states, “he may be required to serve a further term of imprisonment of up to one year per violation pursuant to the U.S. Code with no credit for time already spent on supervised release.”

On his website, Freeman calls his practice “real-world law for real-world people.”

Cowdery declined to comment on the matter Thursday.

The case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Rights Division. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Wines. The disclosure of the plea agreement was made by John Durham, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut and Kristine O’Connell, special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation in New England.

Tom Carson, spokesman for the office of U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, declined to comment on the matter Thursday.