Jersey City attorney charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft


Date: January 12, 2023


Newark, NJ — A Jersey City attorney was charged with defrauding his clients of more than two million dollars, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

James R. Lisa is charged by indictment with three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. He was arraigned today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge José R. Almonte, pleaded not guilty and was release on $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In 2014, Lisa was retained by a family to help repatriate millions of dollars that had been transferred by other family members to offshore bank accounts decades earlier. Lisa was also retained to help resolve the tax issues related to the repatriation of the funds. In 2015, Lisa successfully repatriated more than $6 million of the family's funds, but proceeded to falsely advise the family that the funds remained offshore. In 2017, Lisa provided $4 million of the repatriated funds to the family but continued to falsely represent that the remaining $2 million remained beyond his control.

Lisa falsely told the family that he successfully resolved the tax implications of repatriating the funds. In 2016, Lisa sent the family a fraudulent IRS "closing agreement" reflecting an agreement with the IRS for the family to pay $3 million in taxes and penalties for the repatriated funds. In 2018, Lisa sent the family another fraudulent closing agreement reflecting an agreement with the IRS for the family to pay $2 million in taxes and penalties because only $4 million was purportedly repatriated. In fact, the IRS never entered into these agreements and the IRS employees who purportedly signed the documents never did so.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $250,000. Each count of aggravated identity theft carries a statutory mandatory penalty of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment, and a fine not to exceed $250,000.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents with the IRS - Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins; and Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Mid Atlantic Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Camden.