Jersey City Attorney Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Tax Crimes
NEWARK, N.J. – James R. Lisa, a 68-year-old attorney from Jersey City, has admitted to defrauding clients of over $2 million, among other charges. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.
Lisa faced multiple charges in Newark federal court, including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, obstructing the IRS, failing to file an individual income tax return, and committing wire fraud while on pretrial release.
The case details reveal that in 2014, Lisa was hired by a family to repatriate funds that had been transferred to offshore accounts by other family members years ago. Although Lisa successfully brought back over $6 million of the family’s funds in 2015, he misled the family into believing that the money was still offshore. By 2017, he had returned $4 million to the family but continued to falsely claim that he had no control over the remaining $2 million.
Furthermore, Lisa deceived the family regarding the tax implications of the repatriated funds. He provided them with fake IRS “closing agreements” in 2016 and 2018, which falsely indicated agreements with the IRS for tax and penalty payments. The IRS had never entered into such agreements, and the purported signatures of IRS employees on these documents were fraudulent.
In early 2023, after being charged with the aforementioned fraud scheme, Lisa was placed on pretrial release. However, he violated the terms of his release in April 2023 by committing wire fraud while applying for a $22,000 loan. He submitted a fraudulent letter, allegedly from his defense attorney, to mislead the lender about his ongoing criminal prosecution.
Additionally, Lisa confessed to not filing individual income tax returns from 2015 to 2022, resulting in a tax loss of at least $550,000 to the IRS.
The penalties for Lisa’s crimes range from fines to several years in prison, with sentencing set for January 25, 2024.
The investigation leading to Lisa’s guilty plea involved special agents from the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the IRS – Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden represents the government in this case.