I’ve often suspected this sort of thing happens, but I’ve never seen it caught. A Cincinnati lawyer, Suzanne Land, has pleaded guilty to charges arising from drafting estate planning documents with the benefit of hindsight. From a Department of Justice Press Release:
Land, who until recently was a partner at a Cincinnati law firm, admitted in court documents that from January 2010 through July 2010 she actively obstructed and impeded the IRS during two separate civil audits her clients’ estate tax returns.
According to the plea agreement and statements made in court, to conceal from the IRS the deficiencies in the documents that she drafted for her wealthy clients, Land forged the posthumous signatures of both her deceased clients and their living children on amendments to the documents.
Like any good attorney, she apparently also tended to her billing responsibilities:
Land also misled an appraiser as to the value of the estates, created fake legal invoices that reflected work she never performed, and lied to the IRS about the circumstances surrounding the creation of the amendments.
Fake work, fake invoice. What’s the problem? You wouldn’t want her to issue a real invoice for that, would you?
UPDATE, 5/4: a more sympathetic view from Jack Townsend.