Bears’ Rolle Accuses Tax Lawyer of $1.8 M Fraud | Courthouse News Service
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Bears’ Rolle Accuses Tax Lawyer of $1.8 M Fraud

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Chicago Bears safety Antrel Rolle claims his tax attorney conspired with the president of a "bogus" charity to defraud him of more than $1.8 million.

This week, National Football League player Rolle, 32, sued attorney Hiram Martin, of Martin Law & Associates, and Harold Sterling of San Fernando Valley in a federal civil complaint for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy and other counts.

Wells Fargo Bank is also named. Martin deposited the defrauded funds into an account at the bank, according to the complaint.

With his mother Armelia's help, Rolle says he hired Martin to file his taxes after the attorney said he could save Rolle millions of dollars.

According to Rolle, Martin and Sterling conspired to steal more than $1.2 million of his withholdings in the 2005 and 2006 tax years by forging his signature on tax documents.

In addition, Martin filed Arizona state tax returns under the NFL player's name for the tax years

2005 to 2009, pocketing more than $600,000, Rolle says.

As president of the Victory Chapel Christian Fellowship Church, Sterling's "bogus charitable organization" gave letters to Martin stating that Rolle had made contributions of $632,000 in 2005, and $1,901,000 in 2006, Rolle says.

Victory Chapel is not a party to the lawsuit.

"The bogus charitable contributions were utilized by Martin and Sterling to create large refunds which were then deposited into accounts owned by Martin without the knowledge of plaintiff. Martin is the agent for service of process of various businesses owned by Sterling," the March 11 lawsuit states.

In January 2010, Forbes reported that the Internal Revenue Service had sent Rolle a $2.2 million demand for back taxes for underreporting his tax income by 50 percent for the years 2005 and 2006.

Martin said he was "outraged" and that it was "totally inappropriate" for the business magazine to have looked at tax court filings, even though they are in the public record, Forbes reported at the time.

Rolle says he fired Martin in 2012, after the IRS sent him a notice of lien.

The accountant he hired to replace Martin uncovered the fraud with the help of the National Football League's Investigative Services, after taking a closer look at his tax records, Rolle says.

Rolle began his career a decade ago with the Arizona Cardinals, before moving east to the New York Giants in 2010.

This week, the safety signed an $11.25 million contract with the Bears that keeps him with the team until 2018.

He seeks damages of $1,857,303 and is represented by Robert Keaster of the firm Chamberlin Keaster & Brockman in Encino, Calif.

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