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Montebello attorney gets one year in tax evasion scam

10/24/2011, 12:20 p.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--A Montebello attorney and onetime court commissioner who "structured" cash transactions at banks to avoid having the deposits reported to federal authorities and escape having to pay income taxes was sentenced today to one year in federal prison.

Anthony Luna, 72, was also ordered to serve six months of home detention following his release from prison, pay a $40,000 fine, perform 50 hours of community service, and pay all back taxes due to the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Luna, who previously served as a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner, pleaded guilty on March 22 in federal court to one count of conspiracy to structure cash transactions and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

Over the course of less than two years, Luna funneled more than $300,000 in cash through seven different bank accounts, according to court documents.

He received the money in cash as payment for his legal services and rental payments on properties he owned, prosecutors said.

Luna and his co-conspirators--his daughter and his brother--deposited the money in transactions of less than $10,000 to evade federal reporting requirements. The defendant also stashed cash in several safe deposit boxes until it could be inconspicuously deposited in the accounts, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In addition to the conspiracy to structure cash transactions, Luna pleaded guilty to subscribing to a false tax return for 2008, admitting that he understated his federal income tax liability for 2008 by $66,529.

As part of his plea agreement, Luna agreed to forfeit about a quarter-million dollars seized by authorities last year, including $130,000 in a U.S. Bank account and $54,708 in cash that was found at his home, according to federal prosecutors.

Luna also agreed to cooperate with the IRS, which has determined that Luna owes back taxes totaling $118,826 for the 2007 and 2008 tax years. Luna was also ordered today to file tax returns for the years 2009 and 2010.

The California State Bar in June suspended Luna's license to practice law, but prosecutors pointed out in a sentencing memo that Luna "appears to be actively practicing law on a suspended license."

His daughter, Dianne Sanchez, 42, of Alhambra--also known as Dianne Luna Mejia--pleaded guilty to conspiracy to structure cash transactions and was sentenced to probation.

Luna's brother, Fred Luna, 70, of Camarillo, pleaded guilty to one count of structuring financial transactions and was also given probation.