Jones tax case ends in hung jury

July 31, 1991

After 5 1/2 days of deliberations, a federal court jury announced yesterday it had failed to reach a verdict on charges that former state Delegate Lester V. Jones failed to pay about $130,000 in federal income taxes in 1983 and 1984.

Federal prosecutors Joseph L. Evans and Ira L. Oring said the government will retry the case.

The six-man and six-woman jury notified federal Judge Marvin J. Garbis that they were unable to agree on a unanimous verdict about 2 p.m. yesterday. Mr. Jones was charged with two counts of tax evasion for 1983 and 1984 and two counts of false reporting on amended returns he filed to correct errors on his original returns.

Mr. Jones, 58, who now practices law in Harford County, said he was "gratified" that the jury had not reached a decision -- a circumstance known as a hung jury. His attorney, Stephen H. Sachs, said he was pleased with the outcome because it showed that the jury carefully considered the "credibility" of the government's witnesses.

The government relied heavily on the testimony of Ronald Dochter, Mr. Jones' tax preparer, to prove the case that Mr. Jones willfully hid income from his lucrative law practice. In defending Mr. Jones, Mr. Sachs said many of the problems were due to the incompetence of Mr. Dochter, whom Mr. Sachs called "the most incompetent tax preparer in history."

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