James R. Lisa, a 68-year-old attorney from Jersey City, has confessed to defrauding clients of over $2 million, among other charges, as revealed by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.
Yesterday, in the Newark federal court before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty, Lisa pleaded guilty to multiple charges including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, obstruction of the IRS, and failing to file an income tax return.
He also acknowledged committing wire fraud while under pretrial release.
Lisa, during his tenure as a legal representative, was trusted by a family in 2014 to assist in bringing back millions of dollars from offshore bank accounts. Although he successfully repatriated over $6 million of the family's funds by 2015, he deceitfully told the family that the money remained offshore. It wasn't until 2017 that he handed over $4 million, continuing the facade, that the remaining $2 million was inaccessible.
Further betraying his clients' trust, Lisa crafted fraudulent IRS documents that claimed they owed millions in taxes and penalties for the repatriated funds. When the IRS audited a family member, Lisa responded by producing fake documents, falsely indicating an agreement with the IRS.
Matters worsened for Lisa in January 2023 when he was arrested for the aforementioned fraudulent activities. During his pretrial release, Lisa illegally secured a $22,000 loan, creating and submitting a deceptive letter from his criminal case attorney to mislead the lender.
Lisa also confessed to not filing individual tax returns from 2015 through 2022, causing a staggering tax loss of over $550,000 to the IRS.
The cumulative charges against Lisa include severe penalties, which could see him facing significant prison time, fines, and restitution.
His sentencing is slated for January 25, 2024. U.S. Attorney Sellinger emphasized the importance of public trust in legal representatives, stating that any violations of federal law by attorneys would be met with the full force of the justice system.