Welcome
The United States Law Week

Ex-NFL Player’s Tax Lawyer Gets 3 Years for False Returns (1)

April 2, 2019, 3:42 PMUpdated: April 2, 2019, 4:52 PM

A Northern California tax attorney was sentenced April 1 to three years in federal prison for stealing $1.2 million in refunds fraudulently obtained on behalf of his NFL player client.

The 36-month sentence for Fair Oaks-based Hiram M. Martin comes almost a year and a half after he surrendered to authorities following charges that he falsified returns for Antrel Rolle, a former Pro Bowl NFL safety who played for the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears. Martin reportedly filed tax documents in Rolle’s name without his permission, and forged his client’s signature.

In addition to filing the fraudulent returns, prosecutors say Martin worked to keep the IRS from contacting Rolle. Specifically, Martin gave the IRS his own contact information instead of his client’s.

He also attempted to keep Rolle from contacting the IRS when a news story ran about the athlete’s tax liabilities. Martin told Rolle the story was false.

Martin pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to one felony, prosecutors announced April 1.

“Martin admitted in his plea agreement that he submitted false tax returns for Rolle, who hired Martin when he was a 23-year-old rookie in the National Football League,” representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California wrote.

“The tax returns claimed millions of dollars in bogus charitable donations and business expenses, and Martin never informed Rolle about the phony deductions.”

In addition to the prison term, which the government says is the maximum amount of prison time allowed for the offense charged, Judge Otis D. Wright II ordered Martin to pay $1,223,480 in restitution.

Martin is “disappointed” in the sentence, but he will accept it, according to Richard M. Callahan Jr., of Richard M. Callahan Jr. Law Offices in Pasadena, Calif., counsel to the defendant.

“While Hiram is disappointed in his sentence, he accepts it and will work to make full restitution once he is released from prison,” Callahan said April 1 in an email.

Martin was charged in 2017 with attempting to obstruct and impede the administration of internal revenue laws and three counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation and presentation of false documents, meaning he faced up to 18 years in federal prison.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to the obstruction count in January.

The case is United States v. Martin, C.D. Cal., No. 2:17-cr-00587-ODW, defendant sentenced 4/1/19

To contact the reporter on this story: David McAfee in Los Angeles at dmcAfee@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com