Disbarred San Diego Attorney Admitted He Embezzled Millions of Dollars from Charitable Trusts and Filed False Tax Returns

Department of Justice
Department of Justice

SAN DIEGO – Former trustee and disbarred attorney, Earl Nelson Feldman, pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he used his position of trust to steal millions of dollars from several charitable trusts, which he spent on personal expenses rather than donating to charities. In executing his scheme to defraud, he covered his tracks by filing false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

Feldman entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo. Feldman pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing false tax returns.

According to his plea agreement, Feldman was the trustee of several charitable trusts as early as 1996. He was also an attorney and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the State of California. As early as January 2012 and continuing up to and including April 15, 2015, Feldman made more than $1.6 million in unauthorized wire transfers and withdrawals from the bank accounts of the charitable trusts under his control. To conceal his theft of trust funds, he filed false and fictitious tax returns with the IRS that inflated and falsely reported the number of charitable gifts allegedly made by him as trustee of the charitable trusts. In lieu of making these authorized gifts, Feldman misappropriated trust assets for his own personal expenses, including but not limited to: paying his personal mortgages; paying taxes on properties he owned; making his personal federal and state tax payments; purchasing personal vehicles; paying contractors working on his personal residence; transferring funds from the charitable trust accounts to his personal brokerage account; and paying his personal credit cards.

In total, Feldman admitted he stole approximately $1,648,531.40 from the charitable trusts. Since his fraud was uncovered, Feldman has repaid approximately $1,547,444.16. As part of his plea agreement, Feldman agreed to repay the remaining balance of the restitution in the amount of $101,087.24 to over fifty individual charities. At the hearing, Feldman informed the court that he had written the check for the remaining amount of restitution and intended to deposit it today with the clerk of the court.

In addition to his embezzlement scheme, Feldman admitted in court that he also filed false tax returns. He failed to report the money he embezzled on his tax returns for tax years 2012 through 2014. Feldman admitted that he owes the IRS more than $575,000 in federal income taxes. At the hearing, Feldman informed the Court that he had written the check payable to the IRS for the total amount of taxes due, with interest, and that he intended to mail the check to the IRS today.

Feldman is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. by U.S. District Judge Cathy A. Bencivengo. At the conclusion of today’s hearing, Feldman was released on bond.

Content retrieved from: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdca/pr/disbarred-attorney-admitted-he-embezzled-millions-dollars-charitable-trusts-and-filed

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