BATON ROUGE — Attorney Francis C. Broussard was disbarred by the Louisiana Supreme Court being charged with tax fraud.
The court's ruling, which was published Jan. 25, was done at the behest of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which ruled to disbar Broussard from the practice of law after a federal grand jury indicted the attorney for allegedly making fraudulent claims to the Internal Revenue Service. The disbarment for Broussard, who has a West Monroe mailing address according to the State Bar's website, was made retroactive to Feb. 26, 2014.
Broussard was charged in September 2012 by a Western District of Louisiana federal grand jury with four counts of making fraudulent claims to the IRS. The counts against the attorney were for taxes filed in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Broussard pleaded guilty in 2013 to one count for taxes filed in 2007.
The attorney allegedly provided a tax agent with four 1099-OID forms, or original issue discount forms. According to the IRS website, OIDs are listed as a form of interest on a debt that is counted as additional income. Broussard falsely claimed to have received the forms from Community Trust Bank, Ouachita Independent Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, and Bank of America.
The total returns granted to Broussard by the IRS for the four falsely filed taxes equated $9,783,693. Agents with the IRS Criminal Investigations team questioned Broussard in February 2009 about the four tax years. The attorney allegedly provided false information to the agents, though court documents do not elaborate on what information was provided.
District Judge Robert James sentenced Broussard in February 2014 to 28 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release. The recommended guidelines for sentencing in instances of IRS fraud is 51 to 60 months. James gave as a reason for his ruling that “this is the type of exceptional case under which the guideline determination overestimates the seriousness of the defendant’s action.”
The ODC filed charges against Broussard in October 2013 for violating several sections of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The attorney admitted to the misconduct, though he argued that his punishment should not be as severe as disbarment. Broussard also claimed that during the period of time that he committed the crime to which he pleaded guilty, he was “at an all-time low period,” having suffered depression and anxiety following being physically and emotionally abused by his wife for years.
During sentencing, the Louisiana Supreme Court first took into consideration the attorney’s prior disciplinary history. According to court documents, the attorney, who was admitted to the Louisiana State Bar in 1986, received admonishment in 1998 for making improper financial transactions with his clients.
In 2002, Broussard received a deferred suspension of six months for facilitating a conflict of interest as well as failing to pay settlement funds to a client and allowing his client trust account to dip below what he owed the client. Broussard was also suspended for one year in 2010 for failing to communicate with a client and “neglecting his legal matter,” which resulted in the case being dismissed. The attorney also failed to provide files to two clients after their requests.