A 72-year-old Pleasanton attorney could see up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for tax fraud.
William A. Hirst pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of making a false statement to the Internal Revenue Service, according to US Attorney Melinda Haag.
According to a plea agreement, in 2005, Hirst forged a client's name after losing deeds as part of his work planning an estate, then lied to IRS agents about it.
Hirst admitted he prepared 11 deeds for the client, giving part ownership to the client's daughter. He also acted as the notary public for the client's signature on all 11 deeds.
While eight of the deeds were recorded with the county recorder in March 2004, the remaining three deeds were lost or destroyed after having been signed by the client, who died Feb. 27, 2004.
The estate's accountant filed the estate's federal estate tax return with the IRS on Feb. 2, 2005, but did not list the daughter's interests on the three lost or destroyed deeds.
Hirst re-drafted the three missing deeds and signed the client's name. They were recorded on April 4, 2005.
During an IRS estate audit, Hirst was served a summons to produce his notary log showing the 11 deeds were executed. He was later questioned by IRS estate tax attorneys about the deeds, including the three deeds recorded on April 4, 2005.
In his plea agreement, Hirst admitted he lied to the IRS, saying he found the three lost deeds in a file and recorded them, although he knew he signed the client's signature to the three deeds recorded on April 4, 2005.
Hirst was charged on Dec. 6, 2012, with four counts of making false statements. He is scheduled to appear before United States District Court Judge Samuel Conti, on April 19, 2013, for sentencing.
The maximum statutory penalty for making a false statement is five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.