Partner Chris Lewis Secures Not Guilty Verdict in Federal Trial of Lubbock Businessman Facing Decades in Prison
Christopher W. Lewis, a nationally recognized Dallas criminal defense attorney and Partner at Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP, was recently successful in securing a not guilty verdict in the federal trial of a Lubbock businessman who was charged with willfully failing to pay payroll taxes. The case – which was recently covered by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal – involved our firm’s client being charged with 12 counts of failing to pay payroll taxes on two businesses in 2010 and 2011, with each count carrying a 5 year prison sentence.
The verdict was reached in Lubbock federal district court following 10 hours of jury deliberation, during which jury members processed three days’ worth of testimony from prosecutors and the defense. According to court documents, federal prosecutors presented evidence that the businessman, a certified public accountant, was responsible for preparing quarterly payroll tax returns for the Ranchland Hills Golf Club in Midland and Commerce Resource Group, a staff leasing company. They further alleged he withheld money from employees’ paychecks for federal programs that were never paid.
During trial, Attorney Lewis honed in on the prosecution’s claim that the businessman’s failure to pay taxes was a willful violation of his obligations and the law, and argued they were the result of financial struggles caused by the Great Recession and winter snowstorms that devastated parts of the country in early 2010. He also highlighted evidence showing our client was working with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents to settle debts as they levied his bank accounts, and that the agency further undermined his attempts to make payments by placing liens on businesses and homes he planned to sell. Had those sales taken place, Attorney Lewis argued, our client would have been able to satisfy the debt.
Another key victory for the defense came when Attorney Lewis effectively argued against prosecutors’ claims that our client continued to profit from his businesses and was worth millions of dollars, and therefore had the means to pay the taxes. As he told jurors during trial, a closer look at our client’s financial disclosure not only revealed struggling businesses, but also that a majority of his assets were tied up and not readily available.
Ultimately, the federal jury sided with Attorney Lewis, who succeeded in showing that our client was doing everything possible to work with the IRS to satisfy his debt, and that he had filed bankruptcy after the IRS relentlessly levied the bank accounts of his business.
The federal jury acquittal is a significant victory for Attorney Lewis and his client, who now has an opportunity to rebuild his life after facing a total of 60 years behind bars. These types of results speak volumes about Chris’ extensive experience with difficult cases, including those involving federal charges, and trial skills honed through the handling of more than 250 jury trials. You can read more about the case here.