Raleigh criminal defense attorney Johnny S. Gaskins could be facing jail time himself, according to an article in the News & Observer by Mandy Locke. Her story titled, “Lawyer’s career ends in crime,” explains how his attempts to deposit large sums just under the amount that triggers banks to file reports to the IRS, resulted in a conviction that could land him in prison for up to 35 years. Also he stands to lose his license to practice law in North Carolina.
When considering that Mr. Gaskins reported to the IRS the deposits he made, and paid tax on the total amount, makes it clear that his attempts to shield his large deposits were not made with the intention of evading the payment of taxes. His explanation of his reasons for making large deposits, just under $10,000, sounds reasonable to me. His comment that he does not trust banks, also sounds reasonable, especially in lieu of the high risk investment policies they engage in, and the large salaries and bonuses the upper tier enjoys.
Now, I am no fan of Mr. Gaskins, especially in light of his actions regarding his former client James Arthur Johnson. On a broadly broadcast Fox-50 TV news program, Mr. Gaskins made inflammatory and prejudicial statements about Johnson which decidedly undermined Johnson’s likelihood of prevailing in an upcoming trial against charges trumped up by Wilson District Attorney Howard S. Boney, prosecutor Bill Wolfe, and others. Because of his actions then, which I believe deserved a disciplinary response from the North Carolina State Bar, I filed a complaint with the State Bar (which I am sure that it ignored). I even incorporated Mr. Gaskins’s misfortunes in Episode IV of “The MisAdventures of Super-Duper Cooper,” but in a light hearted and non-malicious way, of course. Although I believe Mr. Gaskins’s statements against his former client were a serious breach of attorney client privilege, I do not feel that they were necessarily grounds for disbarment.
Because he tried to deceive bank tellers by making repeated deposits of just under $10,000 at a time, does not merit disbarment by the State Bar, especially when his intent was obviously not to defraud the IRS. Unfortunately, in our capitalistic society, when it comes to money, the consequences for violations are much greater than for violations of injustice towards human beings.
Did Johnny S. Gaskins violate federal law with his depository dealings? Yes. Should his sentence be severe? No. I would definitely rule out any jail time. Some community service might be appropriate. Finally, should he be forced to surrender his law license? Absolutely not. If the unregulated State Bar were to disbar him, it would be an unfair, illogical, and insensitive action. With its 2007 disbarment of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, the Bar has already demonstrated its capacity to act without reason, justice, consistency, and mercy. Hopefully it will not make another mistake regarding Johnny Gaskins.