Bail bondsman to plead guilty in tax fraud and conspiracy case

Father's plea could spare son jail time

December 16, 2010|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore's biggest bail bondsman will plead guilty in a federal tax fraud and conspiracy case next week as part of a deal that spares his namesake son — and co-defendant — jail time and a felony record, which means the younger man can likely stay in the bond business.

Milton Tillman Jr., 54, of Four Aces Bail Bonds Inc. was arrested alongside his son in March on a 28-count indictment charging the elder man with under-representing his earnings as a bail bondsman and over-representing the hours he worked as a longshoreman, along with wire fraud, filing false tax returns and illegally engaging in the insurance business.

He has agreed to plead guilty to at least one count, according to his attorney, Kenneth W. Ravenell, though the details and recommended penalties are still being worked out with the U.S. attorney's office.

"The reason Mr. Tillman Jr. has decided to plead guilty is because the government has offered a benefit to his son that is very important to Mr. Tillman, which is that the government will recommend that his son will not serve any jail time and be allowed to plead to a misdemeanor," Ravenell said. "Milton Tillman [Jr.] is truly a man who loves his son."

Milton "Moe" Tillman III, 33, was charged with filing false tax statements and permitting a prohibited person — his father — to participate in the insurance business through bail bonding.

He will plead guilty to "the misdemeanor of failing to file a tax return for a corporation for the year 2003," said his attorney, Steven A. Allen, who added that the "the government and Mr. Tillman III have agreed and stipulated that he should not be sentenced to a period of incarceration."

The misdemeanor conviction should allow Tillman III to continue working in bail bonds, a type of insurance business that prevents those with felony convictions, like Milton Jr., from participating.

The elder Tillman pleaded guilty in 1993 to trying to bribe a city zoning board member. And in 1996, he was sentenced to 57 months in prison on charges that he had failed to pay taxes and funneled money into a nightclub he owned.

Both men previously pleaded not guilty in the current case, though a notice listed in the court docket Thursday suggested that they had changed their minds. It listed a "guilty plea arraignment hearing" for Dec. 22. The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the case Thursday.

The charges were not unexpected, a defense attorney said during a March hearing. Federal agents raided Tillman Jr.'s offices in 2008, seizing financial, phone and business records belonging to him and his son, along with records from a longshoremen's union at the Dundalk Marine Terminal.

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