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Pair of Philly lawyers get probation for failing to pay taxes

Edward Millstein and Susan Halpern pleaded guilty last year.

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A pair of Philadelphia lawyers were sentenced in federal court Thursday to probation for failing to pay hundreds of thousands in taxes.

Edward Millstein and Susan Halpern, who are married but estranged, were about to go to trial in November when they admitted their guilt before U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in Philadelphia. Millstein pleaded guilty to one felony count of tax evasion and Halpern pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay taxes.

Rufe sentenced Millstein to five years’ probation with the first six months to be served under house arrest. He was ordered to pay $344,225.33 in restitution and perform 50 hours of community service in each year of his probation. Halpern was sentenced to five years’ probation, and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution and perform 50 hours of community service for each year of her probation.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement that he was disappointed with the sentences. He had accused the couple of spending the money they owed in taxes on a luxury lifestyle.

“These are serious crimes that clearly merit jail time, and the court’s decision today sends the wrong message to the public,” McSwain said.

William J. Brennan, Millstein’s lawyer, said the judge’s decision allows Millstein an opportunity to pay off his restitution. Brennan said his client had led an otherwise exemplary career and life, and the sentence shows “that there’s a lot more to Ted Millstein than one very unfortunate criminal problem.”

Halpern’s lawyer, Jeffrey M. Miller, could not be reached for comment.

In a sentencing memorandum, Miller wrote that while Millstein was “accused of a felony charge relating to a multi-year, alleged criminal tax-fraud scheme, the defendant Halpern’s accusations narrowly pertain to two years and alleged failures to pay taxes and owing (tax returns were jointly filed by the two co-defendants as husband and wife but funds to satisfy the tax obligation were not forwarded to the IRS)."