Ex-federal prosecutor pleads guilty in unpaid taxes case

Lawrence Semenza II, the U.S. attorney for Nevada from 1975 to 1977, pleaded guilty Thursday to failing to file federal individual and corporate income tax returns.

Semenza, who failed to file returns from 2006 to 2010, has agreed to pay the IRS about $290,000 in restitution, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

“Regardless of one’s occupation, job title or position, everyone is responsible for filing and paying taxes on all of their income,” Daniel Bogden, the current U.S. attorney for Nevada, said in the statement. “It is important that American taxpayers understand and feel confident that everyone is playing by the same rules in filing and paying their taxes.”

Semenza pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James Mahan to three misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file a tax return.

According to the guilty plea agreement, Semenza operated his law practice in Las Vegas as a subchapter C personal service corporation.

For years 2006 through 2010, Semenza individually had taxable income of about $655,000, and the corporation had taxable income of about $345,000.

Semenza failed to file individual or corporate income tax returns for those years and failed to pay about $290,000 in taxes.

Sentencing for Semenza is scheduled for Dec. 3. The maximum penalty for each count is one year in prison and a fine of $100,000.

Semenza, a Republican, was an assistant in the U.S. attorney’s office for four years before Sen. Paul Laxalt nominated him for the top position.

President Gerald Ford appointed Semenza, who was 32, making him the youngest U.S. attorney in the country.

While with the U.S. attorney’s office, Semenza prosecuted brothel owner Joe Conforte in a case that involved a failure to pay employee payroll taxes for Mustang Ranch employees.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.