Disbarred San Diego attorney admits stealing from charities

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SAN DIEGO — A disbarred San Diego attorney and accountant pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of wire fraud and filing false tax returns for stealing money from charitable trusts he oversaw.

Earl Nelson Feldman, 76, admitted taking more than $1.6 million in funds from the bank accounts of the trusts he controlled, then hid the transactions by filing false tax returns with the IRS, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Feldman used the money for a variety of personal uses, including paying his mortgage and taxes on his properties, buying vehicles, paying contractors for work on his home, moving money into his brokerage account and paying off his credit cards, prosecutors said.

He was disbarred in 2017 based on similar allegations.

Prosecutors said that since the fraud was discovered, he’s repaid more than $1.5 million. Per his plea agreement, Feldman will repay the remaining $101,087.24 to more than 50 charities. He also agreed to pay more than $575,000 he owes the IRS in federal income taxes.

“Mr. Feldman violated his fiduciary responsibilities and abused his position as trustee by stealing over $1.6 million from charitable trusts, spending the funds to benefit himself, and then filing false tax returns on behalf of the trusts to mislead the IRS and conceal his fraud,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS’ Criminal Investigation division.

“Mr. Feldman’s greed victimized dozens of charities because the funds he stole were designated to be gifts to numerous other charitable organizations,” Korner said.

Feldman, who is out of custody on bond, is slated to be sentenced Feb. 28.

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