Best of TaxLetter: How the Rich Stay Out of Jail

Stanley Stahl was convicted of bribing an IRS agent. On appeal, he argued that the young prosecution attorney tried to arouse the jury's prejudice against him because of his wealth. Stahl's estimated net worth was over $20 million.

Prosecution remarks designed to equate wealth with wrongdoing were prevalent. Stahl was referred to as "a multimillionaire businessman in real estate, who his whole life is geared to buy property, buy property, and whose office, his suite office, has just dollar signs, dollar signs all over. That's all he cares about."

"Mr. Stahl chose money and profit. To make money, money. The man who built up a $12,000 investment into millions of dollars which he doesn't even know how much he owns, or how many apartment buildings he has. It is his greed.... A man whose total life is geared to make money in real estate would also, in all likelihood, be driven by greed to pay the $10,000 bribe in order not to pay substantial monies in taxes."

IRS had witnesses and video-taped and audio-taped conversations to prove Stahl's guilt. But the Appeals Court found prejudicial error and reversed the conviction. (March 1980)


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Created: March 21, 1996; Last updated: January 26, 2004
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