NEW YORK — A lawyer from an affluent Chicago suburb convicted in a multibillion-dollar tax shelter scheme that the government said protected some of the country's richest people from paying much in taxes can have a new trial, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
David Parse, a former broker for an investment banking firm that executed tax shelter transactions, had appealed his 2011 conviction for mail fraud and obstructing the administration of tax laws. He was the only defendant convicted after a three-month trial not to be granted a new trial when it was learned a juror had lied about her background. He had been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.
The trial judge had ruled that Parse's lawyers knew about the juror before the trial ended but failed to inform him so she could be replaced.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the 53-year-old Elmhurst, Illinois, resident was deprived of his right to a trial before an impartial jury.
In a decision written by Judge Amalya Kearse, the court said the record did not support the conclusion that Parse's lawyers knew a juror had lied so she would be chosen to sit on the jury.
In a concurring opinion, Judge Chester J. Straub went further, saying Parse would be entitled to a new trial even if his lawyers did know about the juror's lies.
"I am not aware of a case involving more egregious juror misconduct than that found here," he wrote. "We have never upheld a verdict rendered under these circumstances, and to do so would be to make a farce of our system of justice."
Alexandra Shapiro, who argued for Parse on appeal, said: "Mr. Parse is innocent, and he looks forward to being vindicated at a retrial before an impartial jury if the government retries the case."
A prosecutor's spokeswoman declined to comment.
The trial judge, William H. Pauley III, had earlier ordered new trials for Parse's convicted co-defendants after finding that a juror made "breathtaking" lies about her background as she hid that she was a suspended attorney with a criminal record who aligned herself with the government and believed from the outset that the defendants were corrupt.
Other defendants included Paul M. Daugerdas, a Chicago-area lawyer the government labeled as history's most prolific and unrepentant tax cheat. The Wilmette, Illinois, resident was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison after his retrial resulted in his conviction for conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.
Prosecutors said Daugerdas earned more than $95 million after creating a fraud from 1994 to 2004 that relied on sophisticated and illegal tax shelters to shield some of the country's richest people from paying taxes on nearly $8 billion in gains. They said the shelters benefited investors including the late sports entrepreneur Lamar Hunt, trust fund recipients, inventors, a grandson of the late industrialist Armand Hammer, real estate moguls and one of the earliest investors in Microsoft Corp.
Daugerdas said he was "profoundly disappointed" with his sentence.