An Encinitas attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to two charges of state income tax evasion in connection with about $410,000 in legal fees that he neglected to include on income tax returns in 1981 and 1983.
Lee S. Mandell entered his plea to the felony counts before Municipal Judge Frederic L. Link, who set sentencing for Feb. 5. Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Sullivan, who prosecuted the case, said he will recommend that Mandell be sentenced to one year in local custody and five years' probation and pay a fine of $10,000. Mandell also will be responsible for $133,791 in back taxes and investigation costs totaling $29,794.
Sullivan said the case grew out of a lengthy investigation by the state Franchise Tax Board, which acted on a tip provided by an informant. Prosecutors alleged that Mandell neglected in 1981 to report a $226,582 fee he received for a personal injury case and in 1983 failed to report a fee of $173,669.
"There aren't an awful lot of state income tax evasion cases coming through, and when you're talking about nearly half a million, that's significant," Sullivan said.
Mandell, who has practiced law in North County since 1983, is in the process of resigning from the State Bar, Sullivan said.