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Lawyer Expected to Plead Guilty to Tax Charges

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Veteran criminal defense lawyer Anthony Brooklier, whose clients have ranged from Heidi Fleiss to his own father, a reputed mobster, was charged Tuesday with failing to file federal income tax returns for 1993 and 1994.

He is expected to plead guilty rather than stand trial.

“A negotiated disposition has been reached with the government,” said Brooklier’s lawyer, Donald Re.

Brooklier is to be arraigned in Los Angeles federal court July 6 on two misdemeanor counts that carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

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He also could be ordered to pay taxes he still owes the government on nearly $380,000 in undeclared income earned in 1993 and 1994.

“My failure to file was a mistake which I am taking very seriously and for which I take full responsibility,” the 52-year-old Beverly Hills lawyer said in a statement. “I am doing all I can to resolve the problem.”

Unlike a felony offense, a misdemeanor conviction will not automatically disqualify Brooklier from practicing law. A State Bar representative said any punishment would depend on the seriousness and circumstances of the violations.

This is not the first time that Brooklier has encountered tax problems. The state of California filed a lien against him in 1996 for $52,260 in unpaid taxes.

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A longtime friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called the case a tragedy. “It wasn’t as if Tony was living high off the hog or hiding the money somewhere,” said the friend. “He just shrugged off things, personal things, like paying taxes.”

Brooklier and his law partner, Donald B. Marks, have operated a white collar criminal defense firm for about two decades.

Brooklier first gained attention--and the respect of many prosecutors--when, just three years out of law school, he defended his father, the late Mafia boss Dominic Brooklier, against federal racketeering charges.

Although the elder Brooklier wound up entering a plea and going to prison, Brooklier’s handling of the case earned him a reputation for meticulous preparation and a disarming courtroom style.

Brooklier represented his father unsuccessfully a second time in the early 1980s. The father, who suffered from a heart ailment, died 11 months into a four-year prison term.

Since then, Brooklier has built a practice that has ranged far beyond defending organized crime figures, although he has continued to handle those cases. His clients have included accused stock swindlers, cocaine barons, corrupt public officials and even former law enforcement officials.

In recent years, his biggest high-profile case was as defense attorney for Heidi Fleiss, the accused madam, who was convicted of failing to pay taxes on her income.


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