Former Orange County attorney Joseph Scali was convicted by a federal jury in White Plains on all 10 counts against him, including mail fraud, making false statements to the IRS, tax evasion, and perjury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced Friday.
The conviction came after a four-week trial before U.S. District Judge Nelson Roman of the Southern District of New York.
“Joseph Scali, a disbarred attorney, abused the law to commit the serious crimes of which he now stands convicted,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York said in a statement. “Scali stole money from a client’s attorney escrow account, chronically abused the tax laws to obstruct the IRS and hide income, and defrauded a client into paying him legal fees after he had been suspended from practicing law in New York.”
Federal authorities charged Scali last July, shortly after he was disbarred by the grievance committee for the Ninth Judicial District over 49 charges of professional misconduct. This followed his practice suspension in 2013. Despite this, Scali represented a client over the next two years, collecting fees for his work. These actions led to his maul fraud convictions.
Prosecutors charged Scali with stealing $850,000 from a perspective land buyer involved in a Pennsylvania property transaction. The funds were to be held in escrow. Instead, Scali misappropriated the funds in his trust account.
Scali engaged in tax evasion over the funds by deliberately withholding trust account records from the IRS. Scali’s attempts to deceive the IRS went well beyond this. As far back as 2006, Scali lied and withheld information from the IRS about his trust account, in which he co-mingled personal funds and used for the payment of personal items. He repeatedly failed to file timely returns, and was separately convicted of making false statements to the IRS and structuring cash deposits.
Private attorney Michael Sussman represented Scali. In an email that he said was the extent of his comments, he detailed the specifics of the trial, noting that the jury began deliberating at 4:08 p.m.—”The jury was advised not to commence deliberation until 4:08 p.m.”—and reached its verdict 17 minutes later, at 4:25 p.m.