DA Jason Williams’ co-defendant Nicole Burdett sentenced to probation for tax fraud
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Nicole Burdett, the co-defendant and former law partner of Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, avoided a federal prison sentence Wednesday (Sept. 6) when a judge imposed probation for her tax fraud crimes.
The 42-year-old Kenner woman was on trial with Williams in July 2022, each facing 10 counts in a tax fraud and conspiracy case brought by the federal government in connection with Williams’ private law firm, where Burdett was an office manager and law partner.
At the end of a nine-day trial, Williams and Burdett were acquitted of those charges. But the same jury found Burdett guilty of four felony tax fraud counts brought in a separate indictment that accused her of falsifying personal tax returns with more than $280,000 in inflated business expenses for the tax years 2014-17.
The felony convictions prompted the Louisiana Supreme Court to suspend Burdett’s law license last Sept. 15. But U.S. District Judge Lance Africk on Wednesday imposed five years of probation rather than the federal prison term of at least 20 months that prosecutors had sought.
As a special condition of her probation, Africk ordered that Burdett “shall cooperate fully with the Internal Revenue Service in determining and paying any tax liabilities. The defendant shall provide to the Internal Revenue Service all requested documents and information for purposes of any civil audits, examinations, collections or other proceedings. It is further ordered that the defendant file accurate income tax returns and pay all taxes, interest and penalties due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service.”
The sentencing documents ordered Burdett to pay $101,513 in restitution to the federal treasury, and said the amount has been paid in full.
Burdett has remained free for nearly 14 months since her conviction. Her sentencing, originally scheduled for last Nov. 30, was postponed four times.
Burdett last year filed a post-conviction motion seeking acquittal from Africk, claiming that the government failed to prove her guilt at trial because of insufficient evidence.
Africk conceded the prosecution effort was uneven in proving every element of its theories, but wrote in his denial of the motion, “The jury could reasonably have concluded, as Burdett contends, that Burdett was simply reckless or negligent with regard to her taxes. It could also have reasonably concluded, however, that Burdett knew that (tax preparer Henry) Timothy was taking improper deductions on her behalf and that she continued to use his services in order to reduce her tax liability.
“Timothy was Burdett’s tax preparer between 2010-17. Her tax returns reflected a consistent pattern of very dubious deductions for at least four years in a row.”
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