An attorney from Jersey City finds himself on the wrong side of the law after prosecutors say he defrauded his clients of more than two million dollars.

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67-year-old James R. Lisa is facing three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. During an arraignment on Thursday, Lisa pleaded not guilty and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger's office says,

In 2014, Lisa was retained by a family to help repatriate millions of dollars that had been transferred by other family members to offshore bank accounts decades earlier. Lisa was also retained to help resolve the tax issues related to the repatriation of the funds. In 2015, Lisa successfully repatriated more than $6 million of the family’s funds, but proceeded to falsely advise the family that the funds remained offshore. In 2017, Lisa provided $4 million of the repatriated funds to the family but continued to falsely represent that the remaining $2 million remained beyond his control.

Authorities continue,

Lisa falsely told the family that he successfully resolved the tax implications of repatriating the funds. In 2016, Lisa sent the family a fraudulent IRS “closing agreement” reflecting an agreement with the IRS for the family to pay $3 million in taxes and penalties for the repatriated funds. In 2018, Lisa sent the family another fraudulent closing agreement reflecting an agreement with the IRS for the family to pay $2 million in taxes and penalties because only $4 million was purportedly repatriated. In fact, the IRS never entered into these agreements and the IRS employees who purportedly signed the documents never did so.

Each count of wire fraud carries up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a statutory mandatory penalty of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other prison term, and a fine of up to $250,000.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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