Home Philadelphia Press Releases 2013 Spouse of Former Lackawanna County Guardian Ad Litem Pleads Guilty to Federal Income Tax Fraud Misdemeanor...

Spouse of Former Lackawanna County Guardian Ad Litem Pleads Guilty to Federal Income Tax Fraud Misdemeanor

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 04, 2013
  • Middle District of Pennsylvania (717) 221-4482

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Walter J. Pietralczyk, Jr., age 39, pleaded guilty today to a tax fraud misdemeanor before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt in Scranton.

Pietralczyk is the spouse of Lackawanna County Attorney and former Family Court Guardian Ad Litem Danielle Ross Pietralczyk, both of Jermyn, Pennsylvania.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, an indictment filed against Ross in February 2013 alleged that the couple’s joint federal tax returns verified by Ross under penalty of perjury failed to report income she received from private paying clients while acting as the guardian ad litem for the Lackawanna County Family Court. The only income Ross reported for 2009 and 2010 was her county compensation reported on 1099 Forms, which she received as an independent contractor hired by Lackawanna County.

The indictment charged that as the sole guardian ad litem for the Lackawanna County Family Court, Ross was paid an annual compensation of $38,000. Pursuant to the contract between Ross and Lackawanna County, Ross was permitted to bill private paying parties above her county compensation at a rate of $50 per hour. Those payments were not reported as income for tax purposes.

The investigation continued beyond the original indictment and ultimately implicated Pietralczyk in the submission of false information to the IRS on tax returns filed by the couple.

Pietralczyk was charged in an information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in November 2013.

Pursuant to the terms of plea agreements with the government, both Ross and Pietralczyk have agreed that the tax loss to the United States as a result of the fraud is more than $30,000 but less than $80,000. The restitution amount that will be imposed upon the couple will be determined by the court as part of the sentences. Pietralczyk’s plea relates to the 2009 tax return.

Ross is scheduled to enter her guilty plea on December 16, 2013, before U.S. Senior District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo. She was dismissed from her position as County Guardian Ad Litem earlier this year.

The prosecutions are the result of a joint investigation by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski, assisted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William Houser.

Criminal informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute for Pietralczyk is one year imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances, and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public, and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational, and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.