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In re Christopherson

Supreme Court of Montana

May 31, 2018

IN THE MATTER OF IAN CHRISTOPHERSON, An Attorney at Law, Respondent.

         ODC File No. 18-066

          Michael W. Cotter Chief Disciplinary Counsel Office of Disciplinary Counsel

          RULE 8.4(B), MRPC, RULE 8A(3), MRLDE, RULE 23C, MRLDE

         The Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the State of Montana ("ODC") charges Ian Christopherson with professional misconduct as follows.

         1. Jan Christopherson ("Christopherson") was admitted to the practice of law in the State of Montana in 1979, at which time he took the oath required for admission, wherein he agreed to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Disciplinary Rules adopted by the Montana Supreme Court, and the highest standards of honesty, justice and morality, including, but not limited to, those outlined in parts 3 and 4 of Chapter 61, Title 37, Montana Code Annotated.

         2. The Montana Supreme Court has approved and adopted the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct ("MRPC"), governing the ethical conduct of attorneys licensed to practice in the State of Montana, which Rules were in effect at all times mentioned in this Complaint.

         3. By Order filed May 29, 2018 (attached as Exhibit 1), the Montana Supreme Court, pursuant to Rule 23B, MRLDE (2018), determined that Christopherson's convictions of two counts of felony tax evasion affect his ability to practice law. The Court ordered that Christopherson be placed on interim suspension from the practice of law effective immediately and pending final disposition of a disciplinary proceeding predicated upon the September 23, 2011 convictions of two counts of felony tax evasion. The Court directed ODC to promptly prepare and file a formal complaint against Christopherson based on the felony convictions.

         4. Based on information and belief, Christopherson has not practiced law since his sentencing in federal court, which occurred on December 17, 2012. On July 3, 2013, the Montana State Bar suspended Christopherson for non-payment of dues and his license to practice law has remained in a suspended status since that time.

         5. On September 23, 2011, Christopherson was convicted by jury of two counts of felony tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201, in the United States District Court, District of Nevada.[1] Following trial and prior to sentencing, a Presentence Investigation Report was ordered, but it is not available to ODC at this time. Judgment was entered December 17, 2012, followed by an Amended Judgment dated May 5, 2014. (Exhibits 2 and 3). On December 17, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada sentenced Christopherson to certain terms and conditions, including but not limited to the following:

a. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison with 3 years of supervised release on each count to be served concurrently;
b. He was ordered to pay a $200 fine and restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $728, 786.14.
c. The standard conditions of supervision were imposed as well as special conditions of supervision. The special conditions included, in part:
1. You shall be prohibited from incurring new credit charges, opening additional lines of credit, or negotiating or consummating any financial contracts without the approval of the probation officer.
2. You shall provide the probation officer access to any requested financial information, including personal income tax returns, authorization for release of credit information, and any other business financial information in which you have a control or interest.
3. You shall cooperate and arrange with the Internal Revenue Service to pay all past and present taxes, interest, and penalties owed. You shall file timely, accurate, and lawful income tax returns and ...

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