BEFORE THE HEARING BOARD
ILLINOIS ATTORNEY REGISTRATION
In the Matter of:
HENRY A.mt WEBER,
Commission No. 2020PR00087
FILED --- December 22, 2020
Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, by his attorney, Matthew Lango, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 761 complains of Respondent, Henry Weber, who was licensed to practice law in the state of Illinois on May 10, 1984, and alleges that Respondent has engaged in the following conduct which subjects Respondent to discipline pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 770:
(Criminal convictions for theft of sales tax -
Sarasota and Pinellas County, Florida)
1. Beginning in 2011 and continuing through at least May 2019, Respondent owned and operated at least five Jimmy John's sandwich shops in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. Two of the restaurants were located in Sarasota County, and three of the restaurants were located in Pinellas County.
2. Each restaurant was incorporated as a separate LLC in the State of Florida, with Respondent as managing member and registered agent of each LLC.
3. As the managing member and registered agent of each restaurant, Respondent was responsible for collecting, reporting, and remitting sales and use tax to the State of Florida, Department of Revenue.
4. Respondent did not remit sales and use tax payments for any of the five restaurants with the Florida Department of Revenue from June 2017 through October 2017, from December 2017 through January 2018, and in April 2018.
5. As managing member of the restaurants, Respondent prepared, signed, and filed sales tax returns for the businesses with the State of Florida. During the time periods listed in paragraph 4 above, Respondent filed the sales tax returns, but did not remit any sales tax to the State of Florida. In total, for the five restaurants, Respondent knowingly and unlawfully withheld a total of at least $113,000 (exclusive of late fees, interest, and other penalties) of sales and use tax that should have been remitted to the State of Florida.
6. In the course of its investigation of Respondent's conduct, the Florida Department of Revenue determined that during the time periods listed in paragraph 4 above, Respondent had sufficient funds to pay the sales and use tax on behalf of his restaurants to the State of Florida and was aware of his obligation to pay those taxes but did not do so.
7. Over the course of its investigation, representatives of the Florida Department of Revenue sent letters to Respondent identifying the tax liabilities to his restaurants. The Department of Revenue notified Respondent of his tax liability and representatives from the Department spoke with him regarding the possibility of criminal sanctions for failing to comply. After receiving these communications from the Florida Department of Revenue, Respondent continued to be delinquent in filing returns and remitting sales and use tax.
8. Under Florida Statute 212.15(2) "any person who, with intent to unlawfully deprive or defraud the state of its moneys or the use or benefit thereof, fails to remit taxes collected under this chapter commits theft of state funds … (c) If the total amount of stolen revenue is $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, the offense is a felony of the second degree…(d) If the total amount of stolen revenue is $100,000 or more, the offense is a felony of the first degree."
9. Following an investigation by the Florida Department of Revenue, in 2019, Respondent was arrested and charged in two separate criminal proceedings: one in the Circuit Court of Sarasota County and one in the Circuit Court of Pinellas County.
10. On May 9, 2019, the State's Attorney of Sarasota County charged Respondent in case number 2019-CF-006246NC with theft of state sales tax in an amount more than $20,000 but less than $100,000 in violation of Florida Statute 212.15(2)(c).
11. On June 10, 2019, the State's Attorney of Pinellas County charged Respondent in case number 2019-07089-CF with theft of state sales tax in an amount more than $100,000 in violation of Florida Statute 212.15(2)(d).
12. On January 22, 2020, Respondent entered a plea of nolo contendre in case number 2019-CF-006246NC to the above-referenced charges of theft of state sales tax in Sarasota County, Florida. As part of his negotiated plea, Respondent paid $76,563.33 in restitution to the State of Florida, Department of Revenue. On January 22, 2020, Circuit Court Judge Charles E. Roberts sentenced Respondent to a term of twenty-four months of felony probation.
13. On January 27, 2020, Respondent entered a plea of guilty in case number 19-07089-CF to the charge of theft of state sales tax in Pinellas County, Florida. As part of his negotiated plea, Respondent paid $126,402.59 in restitution to the State of Florida, Department of Revenue. On January 27, 2020, Circuit Court Judge Susan St. John sentenced Respondent to a term of four years of felony probation.
14. In both the Sarasota County and Pinellas County matters, the courts entered a finding withholding adjudication of Respondent's guilt, pursuant to Florida Statute 948.01, pending successful completion of the terms of his felony probation.
15. By reason of the conduct described above, Respondent has engaged in the following misconduct:
Committing criminal acts that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects by violating Florida Statutes 212.15(2)(c) and 212.15(2)(d), and in violation of Rule 8.4(b) of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct (2010).
WHEREFORE, the Administrator respectfully requests that this matter be assigned to a panel of the Hearing Board, that a hearing be held, and that the panel make findings of fact, conclusions of fact and law, and a recommendation for such discipline as is warranted.
Matthew D. Lango
Jerome Larkin, Administrator