(STL.News) – A 70-year-old Brownsville attorney has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of failing to file a financial reporting form as required when operating a trade or business, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Guillermo Vega Jr. pleaded guilty May 23, 2018.
Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen ordered Vega to serve a total of 13 months in prison immediately followed by three years of supervised release. The court also imposed a $100,000 fine and restitution payable to the IRS for unpaid taxes Vega earned as part of his legal practice. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence regarding Vega’s attempt to obstruct justice by tampering with a witness. In handing down the sentence, the court found Vega abused the public trust because of his special skill as an attorney. Judge Hanen also noted other government and legal forms he filed in the course of his representation of criminal defendants.
At the time of the plea, the court heard that on March 21, 2011, Vega received $25,000 in cash related to a single sale while operating as a trade or business, namely the Law Office of Guillermo Vega Jr.
The money was intended for the representation of Heriberto Bazan on federal charges of attempting to transport ammunition into Mexico. Vega did not file the appropriate FinCEN Form in relation to the transaction. A FinCEN Form 8300 is a reporting requirement when a trade or business receives cash in excess of $10,000.
As part of the plea agreement, Vega agreed that he will make full restitution on the tax loss, totaling $126,253.
Vega was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
IRS-Criminal Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jody Young and Karen Betancourt are prosecuting the case.