By Darrell Smith
Embattled tax attorney Roni Deutch Thursday said she will close her law firm of 20 years and surrender her license to practice law.
Deutch, the self styled "tax lady," struck a defiant tone in a brief press conference held at her law firm's North Highlands headquarters. Deutch said she employed 200 people.
"I want to apologize to all of my employees - these wonderful people who have lost their jobs," she said, adding that she was "honored to be your tax lady for the last 20 years."
She said her firm has a debt of about $10 million. With personal debt of $5 million, she said, she is unable to defend herself against state charges that could land her in jail.
Asked what she would do next, Deutch responded, "cry."
In August 2010, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown filed suit against Deutch accusing her of cheating her clients out of $34 million.
A Sacramento Superior Court judge in April froze her assets. Deutch, whose firm took in $25 million a year, was accused by the state of destroying millions of pages of documents; failing to pay about $435,000 in refunds to clients and diverting assets to family, friends and creditors in violation of court orders. State Attorney General Kamala Harris, in court filings, accused Deutch of violating the court's orders "almost before they came off the printer," embarking on a massive shredding operation that claimed as many as 2.7 million documents by the end of March.
She now faces hundreds of counts of contempt and possible jail time. A hearing on the contempt of court allegations is scheduled for July 22.
Last week, Deutch's attorney James J. Banks, filed papers asking to be removed from the case because he hasn't been paid. A hearing on Banks' motion is scheduled for Friday.
Photo caption: Embattled tax attorney Roni Lynn Deutch addresses the media on Thursday for the first time since the state Attorney General levied contempt of court charges against her in April. Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.