U.S. federal courthouse in Bridgeport, Connecticut U.S. federal courthouse in Bridgeport, Connecticut

The founding partner of a Hartford law firm will spend two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for tax evasion.

U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill handed down the sentence Monday to Donald McCarthy Jr., who pleaded guilty in October to one count of tax evasion for not paying more than $1.4 million in federal taxes over a 17-year period. McCarthy faced up to five years in prison.

McCarthy, who was released on a $50,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison Jan. 31.

Donald McCarthy Jr. Donald McCarthy Jr.

According to the government, the 67-year-old 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. McCarthy did not file personal income tax returns at all in 2012 and 2014, the government said.

An IRS investigation revealed that McCarthy, an East Hartford resident, 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 Nov. 30 memorandum in aid of sentencing, the government said McCarthy’s case was “of particular significance and importance. If a successful attorney, who avoided paying $1.4 million of monies due, fails to receive a significant sentence, what incentive will there be for others to comply?”

In its Nov. 27 sentencing memorandum, McCarthy’s attorneys wrote that the judge should consider his health concerns and past work history. The defense asked for a sentence that relied on fines, probation or community service instead of incarceration.

The defense also wrote that McCarthy was “remorseful and regretful of his conduct.”

McCarthy is the founding partner of McCarthy, Coombes & Costello in Hartford. According to the firm’s website, McCarthy began his professional career as an attorney with Adinolfi, O’Brien & Hayes, where he focused on medical malpractice and general liability defense. McCarthy has more than 35 years of experience and was the firm’s senior personal injury trial attorney.

The case was investigated by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Schmeisser. A representative for the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut declined to comment.

A. Ryan McGuigan, McCarthy’s attorney, told the Connecticut Law Tribune Monday: “This is a very sad day for Mr. McCarthy and his family. He has accepted responsibility for his actions and endeavors to make amends in any way that he can.” McGuigan is the principal of Ryan McGuigan in Hartford.