Holland attorney charged with defrauding clients, filing false federal income tax return

Posted at 8:14 AM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 08:14:53-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The United States Attorney's Office announced Thursday a Holland attorney has been charged with defrauding clients and filing a false federal income tax return.

Officials say Jeffrey James Palmer admitted to embezzling more than $339,000 from clients and underreporting income to the IRS. He also admitted "that he failed to report as income the funds he embezzled on his federal income tax returns." The attorney did not report $82,000 of income on the federal Form 1040, "which he signed and filed with the IRS under penalty of perjury in January 2017."

In addition to pleading guilty to the charges, Palmer agreed to pay the IRS "additional tax due and owing for the tax years 2012 through 2016 and restitution to his victims, totaling about $339,520.

In a written plea agreement filed today with the Court, Palmer admitted that he embezzled and converted to his own use approximately $339,520 of client trust funds while licensed and practicing as an attorney. Between 2012 and 2016, Palmer withdrew approximately $274,856 from one client trust account and about $64,664 in funds from a second client trust account. He did not disclose to his clients that he was withdrawing their funds for his own personal use and benefit.

If convicted, Palmer faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for embezzlement and up to three years in prison for the federal tax violation. He also faces the possibility of having his Michigan law license suspended or revoked.