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New tax issues for D.A. Williams show a ‘pattern of behavior,’ legal experts say

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Legal experts are weighing in on the impact of a new tax lien against District Attorney Jason Williams uncovered in a Fox 8 investigation.

The IRS placed a $274,000 lien against Williams’ property in an effort to collect unpaid income taxes in 2019.

In a city where criminal activity is approaching record levels, news of more legal troubles for the parish’s top prosecutor couldn’t come at a worse time.

“They just don’t put a lien on people’s property willy-nilly,” said retired CPA Patrick Lynch.

“A lien in itself is not a crime. The issue is going to be whether or not they are allowed to talk about it,” said Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

This new lien is separate and apart from federal charges brought against Williams claiming he falsely took $720,000 in income tax deductions between the years 2013 and 2017.

ZURIK: New tax issues for Orleans D.A. Jason Williams

“Generally the IRS will issue a 30-day letter to respond to the claim in an issue. From there, they sit down and talk with an agent supervisor and they go to an appeal board. If you want to take it to court, that’s you’re prerogative,” said Lynch.

In two months, Williams will be prosecuted for tax evasion and it is unclear if this new 2019 lien will be brought up at that trial.

“Exactly what will be allowed to be presented to the jury when it comes to granular details will be subject to the court,” said former federal prosecutor Matt Coman.

The new information will likely spark a new round of pre-trial motions.

“You don’t know how big or small this will be in trial. This is information that will show he’s got a pattern of behavior. It may not get in, but the defense will try and keep it out,” said Raspanti.

Coman says any argument over whether the new tax liens will be used as trial evidence will likely be conducted without the jury present.

Williams’ attorneys will try to avoid a conviction that would result in him losing his law license and his office when he heads to trial in mid-July.

Fox 8 reached out to Williams’ office and his attorney for a comment but we have not heard back.

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