The separate indictments of three such well-known lawyers since September has caused anxious talk in the small town that is Philadelphia's criminal defense bar.
Some fear that the ever-vigilant feds have now targeted lawyers. Others say it's just law enforcement doing its job. But no one doubts the anxieties that may arise when investigators close in: two lawyers facing federal scrutiny were found dead this year - both apparent suicide victims.
"There's always a strain to be under investigation for anybody," said Stanford Shmukler, a longtime defense attorney whose clientele includes a lawyer acquitted last year in a fraud case. "For a lawyer, it's practically the kiss of death, because just the accusation immediately ruins his business."
Steven A. Morley, chairman of the Philadelphia Bar Association's criminal justice section, said he is convinced - now more than ever - that lawyers make tantalizing targets.
"The public likes to see it. It reinforces the generally negative view that the public has of lawyers in general, criminal defense lawyers in particular," said Morley. "We live in a time that's very pro-prosecution . . . and the lawyers that defend the criminally accused are good targets."
The elder Peruto says his colleagues in the criminal defense bar "think it's a field day on lawyers."
Too bad, said U.S. Attorney Michael M. Baylson.
"There is absolutely no targeting of lawyers, just like there's no targeting of Orientals or one-eyed Eskimos," said Baylson.
Though the U.S. Attorney's Office keeps no official statistics on this, at least a dozen lawyers have been charged with crimes during the last two years - only a tiny fraction of the total number of defendants indicted, but a number that some legal experts fear is up from past years.
"Nobody's immune," said Baylson. "People commit crimes, they ought to be charged." He said prosecutors should show no favoritism to members of their own profession.
Baylson said Tinari, for example, was just another tax defendant: "The fact that he's a lawyer is of public interest, but from a legal point of view it's irrelevant."
And some defense lawyers share that view.
"I don't see any systematic pattern singling out criminal defense lawyers or any other lawyers," said Samuel C. Stretton, who specializes in representing lawyers in disciplinary trouble.
Shmukler agreed: "I do not accuse this U.S. attorney of being tough, going against lawyers because they are lawyers."
With his fur coats and flaming red hair, Dennis H. Eisman was easy to spot in the courtrooms and corridors of City Hall. His was a busy criminal practice.
When he was found shot to death in his car in April, he was facing imminent indictment on federal money-laundering charges. Authorities said it appeared Eisman had committed suicide.
Last month, another lawyer was found dead. This man, a suburban attorney, was not widely known. Facing a federal investigation for insurance fraud, he
slit his wrists.
Some lawyers theorize that the profession faces more scrutiny than others
because criminals who "flip" and become government snitches may try to curry favor with prosecutors by giving information, truthful or not, about any other people, even their lawyers.
"Defense lawyers are vulnerable because the people that they represent frequently are not the highest element of society and are the first ones who are ready to turn on their own lawyers in order to help themselves out," said Shmukler.
Some of the cases against lawyers may play out in court in the next few months.
The trial of Charles Peruto Jr. is scheduled to begin Jan. 13, with the father - known as one of the best in the business - defending his son against charges of faking a stolen-car report to get out of paying some parking tickets and to get a $200 refund after his Jeep was "booted."
And on Jan. 2, Tinari, who has been one of the city's busiest defense lawyers, is scheduled to be arraigned on charges that he failed to report more than $1.1 million in income to evade about $441,000 in federal taxes.
The third lawyer charged this fall, Simone, has been tried and acquitted twice before. Best known for his defense of reputed organized-crime figures, he was cleared in New Jersey of perjury and in Philadelphia of federal tax violations.
Simone's current indictment remains a mystery. It is under seal in U.S. District Court, according to sources, and is not expected to be unsealed until completion of a lengthy trial in Chicago in which he represents one defendant.
While Simone has declined to discuss the indictment, he has long espoused a belief that federal authorities target him because he has been a fiery and successful courtroom opponent.
During a 1988 court hearing, Simone said one of his clients had hired him for his willingness to take on the feds. "He liked me because I fought the government and won't sell out to the government," said Simone. "That is why I keep getting indicted, because I don't deal with these people like some other lawyers do."
A brand-new associate in Simone's law firm, Stephen B. Jarrett, says he already has hired the most conservative accountant he could find to avoid any problems with the IRS.
"I'm considering getting a sign that says, 'Yes, audit my taxes, please,' " said Jarrett, who just passed the bar examination this year. "It just seems that there's an agenda now to put a lot of scrutiny on defense lawyers - especially those who win."
Morley said lawyers should be wary.
"Any criminal defense lawyers that do not practice exceptional caution regarding their affairs and the manner in which they practice are leaving themselves wide open," he said. "It's really incumbent upon all of us to not
cut any corners - or even give the appearance of cutting any corners."