According to Law360, a former chiropractor failed to shave 374 days from his five-year sentence for evading taxes over $500,000 and failing to report over $1.5 million in foreign accounts when a federal court refused to credit his time served on other charges.
His court documents made clear multiple times that he should not expect an opportunity to shorten his five-year term, according to the court.
The court sentenced Amato in 2019 following his guilty plea to one count of tax evasion and one count of failing to file a Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts report, according to court documents.
Amato, who operated a chiropractic office through two entities, failed to report income earned from one of the office's bank accounts, listing his income in 2014 as zero despite having earned more than $550,000 that year, court documents said. He admitted failing to report $1.5 million stowed in Russian accounts even though he knew he was required to do so, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Amato also admitted to evading more than $300,000 in taxes for 2012, 2013 and 2015 and overbilling at least six insurance companies by more than $1 million for services that were never performed, the DOJ said.
The government agreed that it would not pursue further charges. As part of the deal, Amato agreed he would not try to adjust his sentencing guidelines of five to 10 years. He also would waive his right to appeal if sentenced within the guidelines.
Before sentencing, Amato's counsel filed a motion to reduce his sentence by the 374 days he served in pretrial detention for two state law charges, one of which was related to his federal charges. The U.S. government objected, arguing the motion sought a reduction in his sentence, and Amato's counsel withdrew it. The court Amato to five years in jail.
Amato filed a motion to vacate his sentence. He argued his counsel had been ineffective by advising that the sentence could be reduced. Amato told the court he never would have entered a guilty plea if he knew a reduction was impossible. The attorney also should have secured a better plea bargain agreement, one that did not prohibit reductions in sentencing and should not have withdrawn the motion, he said.
The court disagreed, saying Amato had been fully informed of the plea agreement before entering it. He was aware of the maximum penalties he could face and the court's discretion in sentencing, and aware that he could not rely on any predictions or promises made by counsel outside the proposed agreement, according to the court. The agreement also plainly stated that Amato could not reduce his sentence once he agreed to the deal, the court said.
Amato also mistakenly believed his attorney could secure a better deal, the court said, but failed to show that the government would have accepted one. He had no right to a more favorable sentence, the court added. Withdrawing the motion was not evidence of poor legal service, the court said; rather, it was meritless from the start.
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Read more at: Tax Times blog