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Home Page Official Publication of the State Bar of California January2005
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San Jose lawyer resigns after conviction for tax evasion

A nationally recognized San Jose tax attorney resigned from the State Bar last month, following his conviction in October of tax evasion. OWEN GEORGE FIORE [#32135], 70, who now lives in Idaho, submitted his resignation in October and it was accepted by the Supreme Court Dec. 24.

An expert in estate planning and family trusts as well as a certified public accountant, Fiore was indicted on four counts of tax evasion in November 2003. As part of a plea agreement reached with the U.S. Attorney, he pleaded guilty to one count last October and the remaining three counts were dropped. Fiore was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 11 by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker.

Prosecutors charged that he underestimated his earnings by as much as $1.5 million over a four-year period. But in the plea agreement, Fiore admitted to filing a fraudulent federal income tax return that underestimated his income for 1999 only.

A statement by prosecutors said Fiore “knowingly filed a false and fraudulent federal income tax return . . . understating taxable income by $522,594 and understating his income tax due the government by $214,420.”

In the plea agreement, Fiore agreed to make restitution totaling $626,623. (He previously paid $325,000 of that amount.) It includes both the tax loss for 1999 and the understatements of tax for 1996, 1997 and 1998, which were charged in the indictment.

During those four years, Fiore owned The Fiore Law Group in San Jose and specialized in estates and trusts, family business and wealth succession as well as tax litigation. He is a certified specialist in taxation.

In pleading guilty, he admitted he understated the business receipts from his law practice on his 1999 tax returns by $473,978. “Instead of utilizing the business records and bank records of the law firm to accurately compute my business receipts for 1999, I simply estimated my business receipts full well knowing that I was understating (them) by a substantial amount,” Fiore admitted in the plea agreement.

When he entered a law partnership agreement with John Ramsbacher in 1999, Ramsbacher paid him $37,500, which Fiore was required to report as a capital gain. He did not do so, according to a Justice Department statement. He also received more than $117,000 in client payments due him as the sole owner of his law business that he did not report.

Fiore prepared his own tax return for 1999 and admitted he knew both the capital gain and client payments should have been reported.

Fiore is the author of many tax articles and was lead counsel in several famous tax cases.

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