Little things matter in the legal profession. A typographical error can cost you $40,000. A misplaced comma can be worth hundreds of thousands.
And citing the wrong statute can lead to a nine-figure loss. From the AP:
Poorly written Justice Department documents cost the federal government more than $100 million in what was supposed to have been the crowning moment of the biggest tax prosecution ever.
Walter Anderson, the telecommunications entrepreneur who admitted hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from the IRS and District of Columbia tax collectors, was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison and ordered to repay about $23 million to the city.
But U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said he couldn’t order Anderson to repay the federal government $100 million to $175 million because the Justice Department’s binding plea agreement with Anderson listed the wrong statute.
At the end of the day, it may not matter much, because the IRS intends to pursue the money in civil proceedings. But it’s still highly embarrassing for the DOJ — which doesn’t need more embarrassment these days.
Tax Cheat Escapes $100 Million Repayment [Associated Press]
Mogul Sentenced to 9 Years For Tax Evasion and Fraud [Washington Post]