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IRS ethics lawyer is disbarred after stealing money from a client, lying "with reckless disregard for the truth"


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(NaturalNews) In a case of abject hypocrisy, an Internal Revenue Service lawyer who worked in the tax agency's ethics office has recently been disbarred by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, after the court concluded that she stole a client's funds during a case which she was handling in private practice.

In addition, the court found that attorney Takisha Brown also broke a number of ethics rules and displayed a "reckless disregard for the truth" by misleading a disbarment panel looking into the case, The Washington Times reported.

The paper said that Brown allegedly bragged that she would never be punished because her IRS boss would protect her, according to an agency spokesperson who confirmed that Brown was no longer working there.

"Our records indicate that this employee no longer works for the IRS," spokesman Matthew Leas told the Times, though he wouldn't comment further on the case.

Brown had her licenses suspended and was finally disbarred after misappropriating and misusing money she had won for a client in a case involving an automobile crash. Under terms of the deal she won, Brown was supposed to use a portion of the settlement to pay for the victims' medical bills. However, she withdrew the funds herself and then proceeded to ignore repeated pleas from her client's doctors to pay the medical bills, according to the appeals court.

Brown further misled the disbarment hearing panel when it examined the case, the court noted.

"The record amply supports the conclusions that Ms. Brown intentionally misappropriated funds and made false statements with reckless disregard for the truth," the appeals court ruled in a 14-page order in which her disbarment became official.

The Times was unable to reach Brown; last year, however, she told the paper that she was just beginning as a lawyer and made an error, describing it as a "one-time mistake."

She pleaded for leniency from the court, stating that she paid back the money and explained that, at the time, she was undergoing some personal problems including marital trouble and a difficult pregnancy while being investigated for misconduct.

The court, however, rejected her pleas and noted that misleading a disbarment committee was an "aggravating circumstance" that did her no good.

The Times further noted that Brown's case was far-reaching:

Ms. Brown's case drew the attention of Congress. Two senior members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said the lawyer, in addition to facing disbarment, was accused of lying to the IRS inspector general over whether she left an investigative file on a party bus headed to Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Ms. Brown, the lawmakers said, denied to investigators that she left the file on the bus but told co-workers she was confident that her boss would support her and she would escape any punishment even if auditors proved she did leave the file on the bus. Her boss was Karen L. Hawkins, the head of the ethics office, formally known as the Office of Professional Responsibility.

"I expect nothing but absolute integrity"

Hawkins has run the IRS ethics office that oversees the behavior and practices of tax lawyers since 2009. She has insisted in the past that any misconduct should not be excused, even if it was not related to IRS work.

"I expect nothing but absolute integrity out of both myself and my staff because I just don't see how you can justify disciplining others for lack of integrity if you aren't demonstrating integrity-plus on your own behalf," Hawkins said during a hearing regarding a union grievance in 2014.

When the Times reached out to her for its story regarding Brown, she declined further comment.

In a recent speech, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen insisted that the IRS, which has been under fire for the past few years over allegations it engaged in misconduct regarding the applications of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 elections, has made improvements in employee conduct and behavior.





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