No verdict in lawyer fraud case | News, Sports, Jobs
YOUNGSTOWN — A U.S. District Court jury was unable to reach verdicts Friday night on four of Canfield’s attorney Robert J. Rohrbaugh II’s five counts and found him not guilty of the fifth count of filing false income tax returns.
However, the jury found co-defendant Terris C. Baker guilty on all four counts he faced – conspiracy, aiding and abetting theft of government property, aiding and abetting a false tax return, and conspiracy to view to laundering money.
Rohrbaugh, 47, of Canfield, also faced those four charges, but the jury was unable to decide Rohrbaugh’s guilt or innocence on them. The jury stayed late Friday to try to reach verdicts on all charges.
Baker’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on August 11.
The conspiracy, two charges of aiding and abetting and money laundering alleged that Rohrbaugh and Baker, 49, of Canton, assisted Brandon R. Mace, 43, of Youngstown, in defrauding the US Treasury. Mace filed a fraudulent corporate tax return and obtained a fraudulent tax refund of $1,352,779 in 2015.
He was in prison for federal tax offenses at the time. Mace was sentenced to six years in federal prison in 2013 for claiming bogus income tax refunds totaling nearly $5.5 million, according to a 2013 federal government press release.
He pleaded guilty earlier for his role in the 2015 fraud and was promised a reduced sentence for testifying at the trial, which lasted two weeks before federal judge Benita Y. Pearson.
Rohrbaugh was found not guilty of filing a false tax return for 2015. He was charged with failing to report all of his income. Rohrbaugh is due for retrial at 9 a.m. on September 12 on the four counts the jury was unable to decide.
Federal prosecutors allege Rohrbaugh worked with Baker to open a bank account and cash the income tax refund check for $1,352,779 at a Key Bank branch in Boardman, not far from where he stood. was at the time Rohrbaugh’s former law office on Market Street in Boardman.
Testimony and exhibits during the trial indicated that in early 2015, Mace filed a tax return for an Arlington, Texas company called Speed Werks LLC, which had never filed a tax return. revenue prior to 2015 and “had no history as a corporation,” according to IRS revenue officer David Ross, who testified at the trial.
Other documents presented during the trial indicated that Baker deposited the check for $1,352,779 into an account in the name of Chanley Holdings at the KeyBank branch. Baker was the owner of Chanley Holdings. Ross moved quickly to freeze the bank account and was able to recover $671,649 and return it to the US Treasury in September 2015, documents show.
Mace had also filed six other fictitious tax returns around the same time as Speed Werks’ return, but the IRS flagged them as suspicious and did not pay them. In total, Mace filed returns totaling $8.9 million in refunds.
The IRS sent the refund check for $1,352,779 dated May 22, 2015 to Speed Werks’ business address in Arlington, Texas. A woman mailed the check to a Baker-owned company called Chanlee Holdings in Canton for delivery on July 3, 2015, according to a federal court filing filed by U.S. attorneys.
As early as June 2015, Mace began emailing Baker through the prison’s messaging system to decide what to do with the money. And in July 2015, Mace began emailing Rohrbaugh, who had represented Mace in criminal defense cases in the past, about filing documents with the State of Ohio to register Speed. Werks as an Ohio company, the filing says.
Rohrbaugh’s attorney, Sam Amendolara, told jurors during closing arguments Thursday that he agreed Baker gave Rohrbaugh $150,000 in three separate checks.
When Ross spoke with Rohrbaugh about the fraudulent tax refund Mace obtained, Rohrbaugh only told Ross that Rohrbaugh had received $80,000, including $50,000 in funds Mace owed Rohrbaugh related to a previous car theft depiction. and approximately $30,000 for expenses to help Speed Werks secure a business. location, prosecutors said.
Rohrbaugh wrote the IRS a check for $41,474 on September 16, 2015, to reimburse the IRS for the money he received for the fraudulent refund, even though the IRS demanded the return of all funds received by Rohrbaugh.
Among the most notable witnesses in the trial was Kasey McCollum, Rohrbaugh’s longtime office assistant, who worked for him in his Market Street office in Boardman. Rohrbaugh’s office for about four years has been on Belmont Avenue in Liberty.
McCollum said Rohrbaugh told him in 2015 that Mace had a $1 million IRS refund check. When she heard it, she took it as “Brandon was Brandon again” and agreed, under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Erica Barnhill, that Mace was a “career criminal” who had been implicated in financial fraud on several occasions.
McCollum said she thought the refund check was fake until she learned the Boardman KeyBank branch had cashed it. McCollum handled financial transactions for Rohrbaugh’s company. She said she remembered having conversations with an employee at the bank branch where the refund check was deposited.
There was a waiting period to see if the check would clear, she said.
Then one day the bank clerk said to McCollum, “’You’re not going to believe this.’ She said the check had cleared,” McCollum said. When McCollum told Rohrbaugh, “I think he was just as shocked as (the bank clerk) was,” McCollum said.
During closing arguments, Baker’s attorney Ed Hartwig said Mace had 24 county and federal court convictions between the ages of 19 and 44.