Longtime Rutland attorney to admit filing false tax returns

RUTLAND — A local attorney has a reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors on charges that he “substantially” understated income on his federal taxes.

John Canney III is facing two federal charges: one for filing a false individual tax return and the other for filing a false corporate tax return, according to court records.

Canney is a longtime attorney in Rutland, admitted to the Vermont bar in 1979. His practice focuses on bankruptcy law.

The case against Canney was brought this week. A plea agreement was also submitted to the court at the same time.

The agreement states Canney intends to plead guilty to both charges. Also, on each count he could face up to three years in prison and be ordered to pay full restitution, according to the plea agreement.

The charges do not say how much the taxes were understated. But the plea agreement says Canney and prosecutors agreed that the tax loss is between $100,000 and $250,000.

Neither Canney nor his attorney, Tristram Coffin, who is a former U.S. attorney in Vermont, could be reached for comment. A voicemail message left at Canney’s law office in Rutland was not immediately returned. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Doyle, through a spokesperson, declined to comment Thursday.

A judge will determine Canney’s actual sentence, using federal sentencing guidelines as a reference.

“(John Canney III) fully understands that the guidelines are advisory and that the court can consider any and all information that it deems is relevant to the sentencing determination,” the plea agreement states.

“He acknowledges that in the event that any estimates or predictions by his attorney (or anyone else) are erroneous, those erroneous predictions will not provide grounds for withdrawal of his plea of guilty, modification of his sentence, or for appellate or post-conviction relief.”

The first charge states that on or about April 16, 2012, Canney submitted a false tax return, reporting a gross adjusted income of $39,018 when he knew that figure was “substantially” higher.

The second offense stated that on or about Feb. 23, 2012, Canney submitted a false corporate tax return reporting $265,743 in gross receipts, when that figure was also “substantially” more.

The plea agreement calls for Canney to sign any documents deemed necessary by the IRS to help determine the “tax consequences of his fraudulent conduct.”

No sentencing date has been set.

Alan J. Keays

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