BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – A celebrity attorney who represented Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel in his murder trial has agreed to plead guilty to failing to pay almost $400,000 in taxes.
Michael Sherman, who has frequently appeared on national television shows as a legal analyst, was scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday in Bridgeport to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay federal income taxes.
Defense attorney William Dow III told The Associated Press that Sherman filed accurate returns for 2001 and 2002 but failed to make timely payments to the IRS.
"Mickey has acknowledged this mistake and will plead guilty to misdemeanor offenses," Dow said Tuesday. "Mickey enjoys a loyal following and intends to continue to vigorously represent clients and to protect their legal rights."
Dow said Sherman failed to pay $397,000 in taxes but those taxes have since been paid.
Sherman faces up to two years in prison and a $200,000 fine. Dow, who represented former Gov. John G. Rowland in a corruption scandal that sent Rowland to prison for 10 months, said he was hoping Sherman would be spared prison time.
Asked why Sherman didn't pay the taxes, Dow said, "He has substantial personal and family obligations and was focusing on his practice."
Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in 2002 in the 1975 fatal beating of his neighbor in Greenwich when they were both 15. A defense lawyer says Skakel will file an appeal challenging Sherman's effectiveness.
Skakel's current attorney, Hope Seeley, has said Sherman's financial difficulties resulted in a lack of funds set aside to investigate the case before the 2002 trial. Sherman has denied that.
Sherman's ex-wife accused him last year of failing to pay $16,000 monthly alimony, instead leading a high life that included luxury vacations, expensive hotels and restaurants, costly entertainment, dues at exclusive country clubs and expensive clothing. He promised in October to pay $241,000 to her by 2012.
In 2007, Sherman's law firm partner, Joseph Richichi, was sentenced to 16 months in prison for failing to pay more than $600,000 in taxes.
Richichi blamed his own failing health and Sherman — saying Sherman incurred more than $1.1 million in federal tax liens on the property they owned, bounced checks and failed to pay back $25,000 Richichi loaned him to build a house.