Noted Defense Lawyer Is Given Year In Tax Case Nino Tinari Sobbed With Remorse Before The Judge. He, His Family And His Associates Had Sought Mercy.

Posted: July 18, 1992

Criminal defense lawyer Nino V. Tinari, who has spent 20 years building one of the city's busiest law practices, was sentenced yesterday to 12 months in custody for evading about $475,000 in taxes on $1.2 million in unreported income.

U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. ordered that at least six months of the sentence must be served in prison. He did, however recommend that Tinaro

serve the last six months at a community confinement center.

Prison, however, is not Tinari's only trouble.

The judge said Tinari also is likely to lose his license to practice law for a substantial period of time - a decision that is up to the state Supreme Court. And Assistant U.S. Attorney Terri A. Marinari estimated that Tinari owes $2 million in back federal taxes, penalties and interest.

Tinari, 53, pleaded guilty in February to two counts of tax evasion and has acknowledged that the $1.2 million in unreported income went to support two

families - his wife and their children and his former secretary and their children.

A man who has rarely been at a loss for words in a courtroom, Tinari could barely speak yesterday when he tried to express his remorse moments before Yohn announced the sentence.

"From the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry," said Tinari, his voice barely audible as he struggled for composure and wiped tears from his eyes. ''I just ask for forgiveness."

In court documents, Marinari said that of the $1.2 million in income that was not reported to the IRS, about $588,661 went to Tinari's wife, Katherine, and about $616,668 went to Carol Broussard Tinari, the former secretary who legally changed her name to Tinari several years ago.

In a sentencing memorandum to Yohn, defense attorneys Joseph A. Tate and Christine C. Levin said Tinari was an attentive father who tried hard to look after seven children in two families.

"The circumstances - parallel families - alone are unique. . . . Unlike most, the pain will endure - for both Nino and his family - long after the completion of any sentence that is imposed," the two lawyers wrote.

"A person with a different personality might have called the relationship to a halt, even though children were involved. Nino could not bring himself to do that," they also wrote. "Trying to avoid hurting people, he only hurt them worse."

The memorandum also included letters from Tinari's wife and all of his children, who described him as a supportive, loving father and asked the judge to show leniency. The letters, however, also provide a glimpse of the pain.

"Our mom and dad told us about dad having another family too," wrote his two youngest daughters, ages 10 and 12, who live with their mother, Carol. ''We do not no who they are and we are very confused and sad."

His 14-year-old son, who lives with his father and mother, Katherine, in Newtown Square, also wrote that life has been "absolutely unbearable" in his family since his father's indictment.

Prominent lawyers also wrote letters of support, and defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Sr. took the stand to attest to Tinari's reputation.

"I have never known a man to work harder on behalf of a client," said Peruto.

Tate sought to minimize the amount of time Tinari would have to spend in prison under strict federal sentencing guidelines, which called for a sentence of between 12 and 18 months in prison.

Marinari, however, had sought an 18-month sentence, saying the public needs to know there is a serious penalty for evading taxes.

"Mr. Tinari was before the bar of this courthouse repeatedly . . . knowing that he was committing crimes at least as serious as the clients he represented," said Marinari.

In the end, Yohn opted for a 12-month sentence, but agreed to suggest to federal prison authorities that Tinari serve the last six months at a half-way house.

"There were certainly hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of transactions that took place that were not reported as income," said Yohn. "This was not done because he was destitute, because there was substantial income available to him for both his families, but he wanted to do more without meeting his obligations to the government."

A sentence just of probation, the judge said, would not be appropriate.

"The crime is too serious," said Yohn, who also ordered Tinari to pay a $25,000 fine and to remain on probation for three years. Tinari will begin serving the sentence in October.

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