Md. attorney disbarred for income tax evasion

Assistant attorney general failed to file forms while he was in private practice

`No intention to fulfill ... duties'

November 24, 2001|By M. Dion Thompson | M. Dion Thompson,SUN STAFF

A Maryland assistant attorney general has been disbarred for tax evasion.

The state Attorney Grievance Commission could have suspended Anthony K. Waters but determined his case was so egregious that the only recourse was for his name to "be stricken from the rolls of those authorized to practice law in this State," according to the final order.

Waters, who said he had no comment when reached by phone yesterday, had failed to file state income tax returns between 1990 and 1996, and failed to file federal income and withholding tax returns between 1990 and 1997. During oral arguments this year, he said his financial problems did not indicate a basic character flaw, but were "indicative of the nature of small business and small-business practice."

Waters was in private practice during the period covered by the allegations.

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger, who heard the case, found that Waters "purposely exhibited no intention to fulfill his duties of filing the required income tax forms until the Comptroller and the IRS discovered the delinquency and made attempts to collect back taxes."

The state has been garnisheeing Waters' wages and has eliminated his tax liability for 1990 to 1995. The outstanding balance remains to be paid.

The disbarment, which took effect Nov. 8, is not the first time the grievance commission has punished Waters. He has been reprimanded twice for misconduct. In one case, he failed to complete a legal project for which a client had paid a $500 retainer fee.

In explaining why he never responded to the Bar Counsel in the tax-evasion case, Waters said the letters from the grievance commission made him "basically freeze up," according to the order.

Waters was in private practice for much of the 1990s. One private firm he belonged to went out of business in 1994, leaving behind more than $100,000 in debt.

He continued on his own for a few years before joining the Office of the Attorney General in 1997, where he was assigned to represent the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. His status with that office could not be determined yesterday.

The year after he became an assistant attorney general, Waters was charged with arson and burning with intent to defraud. Investigators had determined that someone used gasoline to start a fire in the basement of his home in Cedarcroft in July 1996. Waters was later acquitted of those charges.

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