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Maryland lawyer disbarred after pleading guilty to tax-fraud conspiracy

A Baltimore lawyer has been disbarred for giving tax information to a con-artist friend while working as an Internal Revenue Service revenue officer more than a decade ago.

The Court of Appeals disbarred Mark Edward Hunt on Dec. 4, one day after a hearing he did not attend.

Hunt was indicted on tax-fraud conspiracy charges in March 2010. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt and was sentenced in January 2011 to three years’ probation.

Hunt worked for the IRS from 1996 to September 2010, at which point he resigned from the position.

He met Irvin Hannis Catlett Jr. in 1999. Catlett, a former car dealer, “serial gambler, self-proclaimed lawyer and self-educated tax specialist,” impressed Hunt with his “flamboyant, large personality,” according to federal court documents.

Between their first meeting and 2002, Catlett used his friendship with Hunt to access and obtain tax information about his clients, according to court documents. Catlett paid Hunt for taxpayer information for 12 people who hired him to file tax returns and resolve outstanding tax liabilities.

Catlett lured Hunt in by giving him a portion of his winnings when the two went to the racetrack early in their relationship. The two spent a lot of time at the horse track over the years, and many of Catlett’s clients were jockeys, prosecutors said in the criminal case.

At one point, Hunt worked at the IRS walk-in desk. Catlett would come in occasionally and request information about his clients. Hunt would give him the information without the proper documentation and received a total of $1,700 from Hunt in return.

Catlett was arrested in 2002 and his relationship with Hunt ended. In 2008, an investigation by the IRS uncovered Hunt’s dealings with Catlett.

After pleading guilty to the federal charge in September 2010, Hunt resigned from his post at the IRS.

Hunt had graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1993 and was admitted to the bar in January 2009, which was almost seven years after committing his involvement with Catlett.

He self-reported his pending criminal proceedings to the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and, in May 2010 started working as a tax attorney at Stanley H. Block & Associates, according to court documents.

Hunt still works as a law clerk at Block’s office in Baltimore. Hunt provides legal support services, but does not represent his own clients, according to court documents.

“He has been working here for a while,” Block said. “He doesn’t really talk to any one in particular, just works on background as a clerk.”

Other sanctions

The Court of Appeals also suspended two other lawyers last week, following disciplinary actions elsewhere.

It suspended Robert Weston Mance III indefinitely after he was suspended in Washington, and suspended Patrick Edward Vanderslice after he was suspended in Delaware.

A phone number for Mance had been disconnected, and a representative at Vanderslice’s former law firm, Moore & Rutt PA in Georgetown, Del., said Vanderslice no longer worked there.

Vanderslice, who had been a member of the Delaware bar since 1999, began having emotional problems because of deaths in his family in 2008 and 2009, for which he sought treatment for depression, according to Delaware court documents.

After firm partners were forced to take a 25 percent pay cut, he misappropriated clients’ fees eight times in less than a year and had clients enter retainer agreements that failed to provide for refunds of unearned retainers, the Delaware Supreme Court found.

His firm discovered the misappropriation in 2011, and he was dismissed after taking a total of $1,780, court documents said. Vanderslice eventually reimbursed the funds, court documents said.

The Delaware Supreme Court suspended Vanderslice for one year on Oct. 12. He was suspended in Maryland on Dec. 6.

Mance, the third attorney, was suspended for six months by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in January.

Mance failed to seek an extension in a civil case, which resulted in its being dismissed, according to D.C. court documents. Mance also failed to respond to requests to submit documents to opposing counsel and failed to provide his client, who was incarcerated, with his file upon request.

After being suspended in Washington, Mance was also suspended from the Maryland bar on Dec. 3 with the right to reapply once he is readmitted in the District.