Barry Jewell's Road to Indictment

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2008 12:00 am  

Little Rock tax lawyer Barry Jewell said in April 2007 that the federal indictment on money-laundering charges that came down that month caught him by surprise.

Recently unsealed documents in the government's case against Jewell, however, show that he has known at least since 2004 that investigators were looking at him. The documents also show - for the first time - the long and winding road traveled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in acting against Jewell, former law partner of convicted embezzler Keith Moser.

The documents reveal:

  • Jewell had worked closely with North Little Rock attorney Sam Perroni, who handles white-collar criminal defense, since 2002 - two years before Moser was charged in U.S. District Court.
  • Jewell knew by August 2004 that he was the target of an IRS investigation into alleged tax fraud.
  • The IRS audited a number of pension funds Jewell created for clients, including one he created for Perroni.

Perroni said last week that Jewell was surprised because he thought the indictment would never appear.

Jewell "had been strung along and threatened with an indictment several times in order to get him to plead guilty," Perroni said. "When he didn't [plead guilty], he never heard from anybody and months would go by."

Now, though, Jewell is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 2 in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. He is charged with three counts of money laundering, one count of income tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to defraud the government. "We vigorously dispute [the charges]," Perroni said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office doesn't comment on pending cases.

In a separate development, Jewell achieved a victory against the government on March 6 when U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes awarded Jewell nearly $160,000 the IRS had seized from him in June 2006. The money was taken because IRS Special Agent Dan Elliott said it could be traced to Moser's crimes.

In May 2005, Moser pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison for stealing nearly $2 million of his clients' money, defrauding the government, dodging capital gains taxes and his role in a kickback scheme in Michigan.

But Jewell hasn't seen his money yet. Perroni filed a motion last week for the government to explain why it hasn't returned the funds.

Road to Indictment

In the summer of 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI started investigating Jewell's law firm, Jewell Moser Fletcher & Holleman. Jewell called Perroni for help.

Jewell said he went to Perroni for one reason: he was the best at defending white-collar crimes.



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