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Former State Bar Employee Pleads to Embezzlement, State Income Tax Evasion

Released: December 2, 2009

Sacramento — A former employee of the State Bar of California pleaded no contest to one felony count of embezzlement with an enhancement for excessive taking and six counts of state income tax evasion, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announced.

Sharon E. Pearl, 51, of Oakland, was employed as the Director of Real Properties with the California State Bar. According to court documents, from 2000 - 2007 Pearl abused her position of trust by embezzling more than $675,000 in rental payments from retailers located within the Bar’s headquarters and diverting the funds to other bank accounts for her own use. Pearl used the money on lavish items such as spa treatments, clothing purchased from high-end stores, meals in expensive restaurants, and stays in expensive hotels.

In addition, Pearl failed to report this illegal income on her 2002 - 2007 state income tax returns. All income is taxable, including income from illegal sources. She owes the state more than $51,500 in unpaid tax. Interest, penalties, and the cost of the investigation will be added to this figure.

Pearl’s sentencing is scheduled for February 3, 2010, in Department 11 at the Alameda County Superior Court Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. She faces up to four years in state prison. Restitution to her victims will also be ordered at this time.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson accepted the plea. Ron Smetana of the California Attorney General’s Office (AG) prosecuted the case. This was a joint investigation between the AG’s office and FTB.

For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit www.taxes.ca.gov.