By Denny Walsh
William Murray, a Sacramento accountant who stole more than $13 million from 52 clients between 2001 and 2009, pleaded guilty today in federal court to mail fraud and interference with tax administration.
U. S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia ordered Murray to immediately be taken into custody by deputy U. S. marshals. The judge set sentencing for May 28.
Murray, 55, told clients to write checks to accounts under his control so he could pay taxes or make investments on their behalf. Much of the money went to support his extravagant lifestyle, including the purchase of real property, a classic car, a fleet of limousines, expensive jewelry and rugs, and fine wines.
He changed his clients' addresses to his own so they would not receive the IRS' delinquent tax notices.
As demands for payment arrived from clients and the IRS, Murray's fraud became a Ponzi scheme that he perpetuated by using more than $3.5 million in recent client receipts to pay off demands stemming from earlier theft.
Before the house of cards collapsed, Murray was a man of some prominence. He was a certified public accountant with a solid client base.
He regularly offered tax advice on a local television channel. He was used as an expert witness in courts in five counties.
He served as a federal tax agent between 1976 and 1980, when he moved to Sacramento to join a former IRS colleague in private practice.
Murray's plea agreement calls for the forfeiture of all his remaining assets to the government, victim restitution, and full disclosure of his finances to the victims.
Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.
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