Sacramento attorney and filer of ADA lawsuits sentenced for filing false tax return


Date: April 11, 2023


Sacramento, Calif. — Scott Norris Johnson, a Sacramento attorney and filer of thousands of disability discrimination lawsuits, was sentenced today to 18 months home detention as part of a 30-month term of probation, and ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution and a $50,000 fine, for filing a false tax return on which he underreported the income he earned from many of those lawsuits, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department's Tax Division announced.

The sentence included the terms that while on probation Johnson may not reapply for reinstatement to the California Bar, and that during the period of home detention he may not leave home for the purpose of seeking violations of the ADA or Unruh Act in order to file suits in federal or state courts.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Johnson, of Carmichael, owned and operated Disabled Access Prevents Injury Inc. (DAPI), a legal services corporation. First using DAPI, and later using a law firm, Johnson filed thousands of lawsuits in the Eastern District of California and elsewhere under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and related California statutes, naming himself as the plaintiff.

Under the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, payments related to lawsuit settlements or awards are taxable unless paid on account of personal physical injury or physical sickness. Johnson, who worked as an attorney at the IRS earlier in his career, was required to report the taxable portion of the lawsuit settlements and awards he received. He nonetheless intentionally underreported this income on his 2012, 2013, and 2014 tax returns. By understating the lawsuit settlements and awards, Johnson and DAPI paid little to no income tax for tax years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Johnson caused a loss to the IRS of more than $250,000.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine T. Lydon and Assistant Chief Matthew J. Kluge of the Tax Division prosecuted the case.