Bail bondsmen plead guilty in tax fraud case

Father and son to be sentenced in July

December 22, 2010|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore bail bondsman Milton Tillman Jr. and his namesake son — who together ran Four Aces Bail Bonds — each pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal tax fraud cases that will likely send the elder man to prison for several years, while allowing the younger man to continue in the bail business.

Tillman Jr., 54, pleaded guilty to three counts:

•Filing a false tax return in 2007, in which he underestimated his bail bonds income by more than a half-million dollars and overestimated work he did as a longshoreman;

•Unlawfully engaging in the insurance industry through bail bonds, which he was banned from doing because of a prior felony conviction;

•And wire fraud through a scheme to defraud Ports of America by lying about the hours he worked.

His crimes carry a maximum combined sentence of 28 years and fines up to $600,000. But prosecutors plan to recommend a 51-month prison term at his July sentencing, along with requiring restitution of $120,000 to Ports of America.

The deal was contingent upon the plea of his son, Milton Tillman III, who pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file a tax return. The charge was contained in a criminal information filed in court Wednesday morning. Tillman III had earlier been charged alongside his father in a 28-count indictment, but all counts in that case against the younger man will be dropped at his sentencing, under the agreement.

Prosecutors plan to ask for a 12-month term of detention for Tillman III, either at his home or in a community halfway house setting, with provisions for work release so he can keep the company running.

"Part of the concept here when we negotiated the deal was continuation of the business," said defense attorney Steven A. Allen, who represents Tillman III.

Tillman Jr.'s lawyer, Kenneth W. Ravenell, said last week that his client agreed to the deal to spare his son prison time. The lawyers called it a type of "package deal" Wednesday.

The Tillmans are scheduled for back-to-back sentencing July 8, a delay that gives them time to settle civil claims the Internal Revenue Service may have against them.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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