NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans City Councilmember-at-Large Jason Williams has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 counts including fraud and tax charges, according to a court document.
The grand jury accused Williams Friday of lying about his expenses over several years.
Nicole Burdett, an attorney who worked with Williams, was also named in the indictment.
The indictment accused the two of trying to reduce Williams’ tax liability to under $200,000 for at least five years. Williams is also accused of failing to report cash payments from clients.
Williams, 47, was elected to the council in 2014. He has been under federal investigation for two years. If convicted, the suspects could face at least five years in prison.
Williams said he planned to run against current District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro in the next election.
Billy Gibbens, the attorney for Williams, later released the statement on the situation:
“We are deeply disappointed that the government has chosen to indict Jason Williams simply for following the advice of his tax preparer.
We also question why the government would take such action against a declared candidate for Orleans Parish District Attorney less than a month before the campaign begins.
For years, Jason paid Henry Timothy, who held himself out as a CPA, to file his taxes. Every year at tax time, Jason would send his information to Mr. Timothy, and Mr. Timothy would prepare his returns. There was never any hint of a problem.
Last year, the IRS informed Jason that it believed some of his business expense deductions were inappropriate. These deductions were fully disclosed on Jason’s returns, and the decision to take these deductions was Mr. Timothy’s.
Initially, Mr. Timothy stood by his work. He assured us that he – not Jason – made all tax decisions, that he handled Jason’s returns the same as all his clients', and that there was nothing wrong with Jason’s taxes.
However, after Mr. Timothy learned that he was under investigation by the IRS, he changed his tune and now claims that Jason “pressured” him to take improper deductions. That is a lie.
We have also determined that Mr. Timothy was not a CPA as he claimed, and yesterday a judge issued a court order prohibiting Mr. Timothy from continuing to represent himself as a CPA to the public, as he misled Jason for many years.
On behalf of Jason Williams, we ask that any former clients of Henry Timothy or B & B Accounting Services, LLC contact us at 504-680-6065, so that the truth will come out and Jason will not be penalized for Mr. Timothy’s actions.
Jason is innocent of these charges and looks forward to his day in court.”
Burdett’s attorney Michael Magner also released the following statement:
“We are disappointed and bafﬂed that the government has chosen to indict an honest lawyer like Nicole Burdett for doing nothing other than forwarding her ﬁrm’s books and records to someone that she and Jason Williams both believed to have been a Certiﬁed Public Accountant.
Nicole is innocent of these charges and looks forward to her day in court.
Nicole and Jason Williams relied on Henry Timothy, who falsely held himself out as a CPA verbally and in writing, to ﬁle Jason’s taxes. Nicole trusted Timothy because he handled her family’s tax returns for many years. Nicole took Jason’s accounting records to Timothy and picked up the tax returns when he was through.
When this matter ﬁrst arose, Mr. Timothy truthfully told us that he made all tax decisions, and that he alone decided what deductions to take. He assured us that he would never have done anything to hurt Jason and Nicole.
Now it appears that Mr. Timothy has decided to save his own skin by lying to the government. It also appears that the government, after aggressively investigating Timothy for fraud, has chosen to turn a blind eye to the fact that Timothy has defrauded many other innocent people.
We have also determined that Mr. Timothy was not a CPA as he claimed, and we have obtained the attached court order prohibiting Mr. Timothy from continuing to represent himself as a CPA to the public.”
The 13-page indictment accuses New Orleans City Council President Jason Williams of lying on his tax filings with fellow attorney, Nicole Burdett.
The 11 counts listed on the indictment include conspiracy to defraud the united states, aiding and assisting in the preparation & presentation of false & fraudulent returns and filing to file forms relating to cash received.
Court documents accuse the pair of fraudulently overstating business expenses.
The US attorney also alleges the pair “would, on occasion, receive cash payments from clients. At times, these cash payments exceeded $10,000, but fail to file appropriate tax forms reporting them.”
The indictment includes two charts— one details the alleged amount of false expenses declared in 2014 through 2018.
The other names the cash expenses the U-S government accuses Williams of failing to report.
Williams is accused of reducing his tax liability, or the amount required to pay in taxes, by 200,000 dollars.
In statements from their lawyers, both Williams and Burdett blamed their tax preparer, Henry Timothy.
We reached out to the tax preparer, Henry Timothy, for comment, but have not heard back.