Gary Dubin spent 19½ months in a California federal prison and returned to Hawaii in October 1996 to practice law. The state’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, in an extremely unusual decision concerning a matter of moral turpitude, determined that a finding of professional misconduct was “not warranted.” Later, even the U.S. Internal Revenue Service reversed itself, saying he didn’t owe the $1.5 million that was the basis of his three misdemeanor convictions for failure to file tax returns.
In fact, the agency gave him nearly $100,000, including interest, from payment in an earlier tax year. The IRS had found that he indeed had substantial business losses and deductions for the years in question, and that they could be carried back.
He can’t recoup the time behind bars; the same goes, thus far, for the $131,000 the judge fined him. In 2006, the IRS looked into the possibility of crediting the fine to his next tax liability, but found it couldn’t because the money went to the court.
Dubin still seeks redress beyond his vindication from the bar and the IRS. He has filed complaint after complaint in venue after venue against the man who sentenced him—including a 2006 mandamus petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, where cert was denied.
Dubin had been Hawaii’s example in “Project Esquire,” a nationwide dragnet by the IRS to snare lawyers for failure to file tax returns. Dubin’s case had been scheduled for a bench trial with a magistrate there.
But on short notice, it found its way to the docket of U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real—a jurist known for a heavy hand with errant lawyers in the Central District of California—who was visiting on the bench from Los Angeles.