By Edward Snook
Planner Chandra Crone was in touch with AAA organizers back in Costa Rica and they told her to hire lawyers for the defendants before the trial started. Chandra, like the Morans, was one of the many honest people working for AAA who eventually got cheated and eventually became disillusioned when many of the things she had been told turned out not to be true. Chief among these stories were that the investments made by people like the Morans and many others, such as Dr. Erik Dehlinger of South Carolina, were going up faster than rockets. The sad truth was that there were no investments being made. The investors were simply getting statements saying they were making money.In 2004, the largest criminal tax case in the United States took place in Seattle Washington…it was the attack on Anderson Ark and Associates (AAA) founders Wayne and Keith Anderson, several of their professional tax Planners, including Gary Kuzel, Tara LaGrand, and Richard Marks, as well as Pam and Jim Moran. Everyone was convicted except for the Planners. The jury hung regarding the guilt of the Planners, 11 to 1 for guilty…but they still hung – No conviction.
Chandra hired attorney Scott Engelhard to centrally represent the interests of all the AAA Planners, so that AAA could save money. Obviously, if any of the Planners got indicted they would have to hire new counsel, as Engelhard was not hired as a trial lawyer. Attorneys can’t represent everyone involved in the same case, as there could be conflicts of interest.
It is essential to the practice of law that if a lawyer has a client whose interest conflicts with another potential client that he realizes he can’t serve multiple masters. When there is a possible conflict, the lawyer has to have the permission of all clients that it is ok to go ahead, and normally this has to be in writing. According to Collis Redd’s sworn affidavit, during Tara LaGrand’s 2004 trial held in Seattle, Washington, attorney Scott Engelhard wrote to his client, Collis Redd and asked for his permission to represent LaGrand. Redd said, “no”and didn’t give Engelhard a written release. Even without consent, Engelhard decided he would represent LaGrand as well as Dehlinger during their trials. Like Redd, Dehlinger never signed a waiver giving his consent for Engelhard to represent anyone else who could potentially be a conflict. The bottom-line is, Engelhard never told anyone of his conflicts, except Collis Redd who told him no, thereby not giving anyone the option of making an informed decision regarding their counsel.
At LaGrand’s trial, part of Engelhard’s strategy was to blame the Morans. Obviously it didn’t help the Morans, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later determined they did not get a fair trial (not necessarily due to Engelhard). James and Pamela Moran were convicted in 2004. Reversed in the summer of 2007, and in December of 2007, found not guilty, when their full story came out.
But this article is dealing with events both before the 2007 Moran trial and after the trial. Before the Moran trial, which this paper covered extensively, Engelhard was in trial representing Erik Dehlinger, an emergency room surgeon in South Carolina who was charged with income tax evasion and who later would end up on the victim’s list of AAA. Dehlinger had relied on Tara LaGrand to stay in AAA and to draft one of the two tax returns he was charged with filing fraudulently. The Observer wonders how he could be a victim of Tara LaGrand’s company and at the same time a tax-cheat. Doesn’t the government have to pick which list he gets put on? Who could clear this up? Most likely to clear it up would be the Planners from whom he got all of his information –Collis Redd and Tara LaGrand.
The main Planner, Tara LaGrand accepted a plea bargain and pled guilty after her 2004 hung-jury trial. Her attorney was Scott Engelhard. Dehlinger’s other two lawyers, Jay Ervin and Rob Stientjes were expecting Tara LaGrand to testify at Dehlinger’s trial. According to witnesses, just days before trial, Dehlinger was expecting LaGrand to testify. Engelhard now claims, under oath, in the paper he signed for the purpose of allegedly helping the government keep his client, Dr. Dehlinger in jail, that he didn’t allow LaGrand to testify due to “strategy.”The Observer would like to know what kind of a lawyer actively cooperates with the government against his own former client. Engelhard claims in his sworn affidavit, filed with the court, that his local bar ethics (the ones in Seattle Washington, not the ones where his client was tried in South Carolina) allow him to help the government against his former client. The Observer would like to know why he didn’t simply refuse to help. How long and on how many other cases has he assisted the government? Why didn’t he contact the new lawyer helping his former client, Mr. Monroe, before talking to the government, or for that matter, Mr. Steintjes or Mr. Ervin?
During the Moran trial, Collis Redd took the stand and explained how he and many others relied on experts. Chandra Crone took the stand and verified that. But LaGrand, who had agreed to testify, filed a motion claiming that her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent would be violated if she testified. Who filed the motion for her? None other than Scott Engelhard. How could Engelhard represent Tara LaGrand before, after and during (before the sentence was imposed) the time he was also representing Dr. Dehlinger?
Rob Stientjes was part of the winning team at the Moran trial, as one of their expert witnesses. He had never met Collis Redd before December of 2007, but once he saw Collis testify, he realized that he had been deceived by Engelhard about the value of the Planners as witnesses, and, as any honest lawyer would do, he sent an affidavit saying so to Dr. Dehlinger’s new trial counsel, Stan Monroe. Monroe is one of America’s leading criminal defense lawyers and was hired to save Dehlinger from a tough sentencing and to ask for a new trial. He secured affidavits, including the one from Stientjes and argued. But when he got to court he was confronted with an affidavit from Engelhard. Engelhard said in his affidavit that he wrote in cooperation with the government, that Washington ethics rules “allowed”him to switch sides and help the government if his work was questioned in context with the fairness of Dehlinger’s trial.
Stientjes’Beef with Engelhard
Backing up to the Dehlinger trial in 2007, again, before the December 2007 Moran trial – When Stientjes specifically asked Engelhard about his knowledge of Collis Redd and whether Redd would be a good witness, Engelhard did not reveal to Stientjes that Engelhard had previously represented Redd. Failure to give full disclosure is one of the sins of omissions that unethical attorneys commit. They owe a duty of telling their clients and the rest of the legal team everything they know about the case, the potential witnesses and the facts. This failure to disclose accurate and useful information about Redd to the rest of the legal team and to the client, contributed, according to Stientjes, to Dehlinger’s conviction. US~Observer legal counsel and this writer completely concur with Mr. Stientjes. In addition, Engelhard told Stientjes that Redd would not be a good witness for Dehlinger, which Stientjes told this reporter he now knows was completely false. Engelhard deceived the lawyers working on the team as well as the client. Redd could have and should have been a witness for Dehlinger.
Engelhard’s supposed command of the facts surrounding AAA, which he professed to have learned by representing LaGrand, is why Engelhard was selected as lead-counsel for Dehlinger. The reality, according to Stientjes, is that Engelhard wouldn’t allow her to testify even after Stientjes offered to put her on the stand to help Dehlinger and even knowing that this is what Dehlinger wanted. Stientjes deferred to Engelhard because, acting as La Grand’s lawyer, Engelhard stated that he wouldn’t allow her to testify. No strategy – Dehlinger was subsequently convicted and sentenced to prison…
In Seattle, Washington where Planner Collis Redd’s testimony was used, the defendants were found not guilty. Stientjes’affidavit says that he believes Collis was a critical witness. In San Antonio, where another Planner testified, the jury found the defendant Doctor and his wife not guilty on all but one count and the court gave them probation. Any case where a Planner did not testify, it appears that the defendant was convicted and sent to prison. In both cases where planners testified the defendants were not sent to prison. It is easy to see why the government supports the position that Planners weren’t needed; but it is hard to support an attorney who actively works to keep the Planners off of the stand.
How many Planners did Engelhard represent? Why didn’t he share this information fully?
I recently spoke with Rob Stientjes, a well known and respected tax attorney and told him that I was completely aware that he was deceived by Engelhard regarding both Collis Redd and Tara LaGrand testifying at the Dehlinger trial and he offered no denial. It is more than obvious to this writer that had he known all he has learned since then, he would not have tried the case with Engelhard.
What motivates an attorney like Scott Engelhard, who has been paid to serve his client and the constitution, to switch sides and represent the government’s point of view? Does an innocent man sit in prison today because of an attorney with an Evil heart?
During the Moran trial Engelhard asked to speak to the Morans to try and convince them to plead guilty. What was his motive? Who was his master? Since the Morans did not regard him favorably, particularly since he had maligned them during their first trial, they refused to meet with him. The biblical principle warning that a man cannot serve two masters is the basis behind much of the concern when lawyers have conflicts, as well it should be.
So far this reporter has not been able to find a criminal tax case in which Engelhard won all counts in front of a jury, or a criminal tax case that Engelhard won on appeal. Should a lawyer be able to represent that he has expertise in an area where he has not had any substantial success?
The case may be over. The appeals may be lost. But this paper is interested in getting to the bottom of it and we will. Don’t miss our next article on attorney Scott Engelhard and Dr. Dehlinger’s wrongful conviction.