CHARLESTON -- A Charleston attorney was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution.
Harold "Hal" Albertson, 65, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas E. Johnston after previously pleading guilty to evading more than $100,000 in federal taxes. The restitution will go to former clients, investors and the Internal Revenue Service.
As part of his plea agreement, Albertson also admitted he lured clients into investing money with him by promising a high rate of return. But, according to court documents, Albertson never paid the clients the high rate of return.
Instead of investing the invested money, Albertson used it to pay his own debts. He admitted he cashed clients’ checks and used the proceeds to repay someone else.
Documents show that Albertson didn't pay $102,410 of income tax from 2003 to 2010.
Files also show that Albertson used one bank account to keep both his personal funds and his client's funds. According to Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys must keep a separate bank account for safekeeping their client's funds.
Albertson "conducted his business in cash and did not keep regular books in an attempt to make it difficult or impossible to identify his assets and to collect amounts owed by him," the charge states.
Last year, ethics charges were filed against Albertson by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel based on four separate complaints filed against him.
The case was investigated by the West Virginia State Police and the Internal Revenue Service.