By STEPHANIE REITZ, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ An attorney who represented Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel in his murder trial was sentenced Wednesday to one year and one day in federal prison for failing to pay about $420,000 in income taxes.
Michael “Mickey” Sherman, who has appeared frequently on national television shows as a legal analyst, had pleaded guilty in June to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay income taxes.
He admitted he could have paid the taxes, but spent the money on country club memberships and other lavish expenses.
Prosecutors said Wednesday he has repaid $400,000 but still owes about $1.2 million in taxes, penalties and interest from 2001 to 2009. Sherman was ordered to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service on a plan to repay those debts as part of his sentencing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport.
Messages left for Sherman and his defense attorney, William Dow III, were not immediately returned.
Dow previously had said that Sherman filed accurate returns but failed to pay the taxes because he had “substantial personal and family obligations and was focusing on his practice,” which included the high-profile Skakel case.
Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in 2002 in the 1975 fatal beating of his neighbor in Greenwich when they were both 15.
Skakel is serving 20 years to life in a state prison. Sherman will be assigned to a yet-undetermined federal facility when he starts his sentence March 16.
Skakel’s current attorney, Hope Seeley, has said Sherman’s financial difficulties resulted in the defense not having enough money to investigate the case before the 2002 trial. Sherman has denied that.
Skakel is appealing his conviction based on that argument and others. He already has lost two appeals before the Connecticut Supreme Court, but his latest points to several instances in which the high court criticized Sherman’s handling of the case.
Sherman, who could have received up to two years in prison for the tax charges, also represented former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland in a corruption scandal that sent Rowland to federal prison for 10 months.
Sherman’s ex-wife accused him last year of failing to pay $16,000 monthly alimony, instead leading a high life of luxury vacations, expensive hotels and restaurants, costly entertainment, dues at exclusive country clubs and pricey clothing.
In 2007, Sherman’s law firm partner, Joseph Richichi, was sentenced to 16 months in prison for failing to pay more than $600,000 in taxes.
Richichi blamed his own failing health and Sherman _ saying Sherman incurred more than $1.1 million in federal tax liens on the property they owned, bounced checks and failed to pay back $25,000 Richichi loaned him to build a house.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)