Applicant attorney suspended, awaits sentencing

State officials suspended a Southern California applicant attorney from practicing law in California, and the attorney is awaiting sentencing for tax fraud. The fraudulent activity stemmed from reputed charitable donations that were actually payments for client referrals.

The California State Bar suspended attorney Ronald Mix’s license indefinitely effective September 26. The move follows Mix’s conviction for tax fraud “a felony that involves moral turpitude,” the state bar noted in its suspension order.

Mix entered a guilty plea earlier this year to cheating on his taxes by disguising payments for client referrals as charitable donations. Mix took the tax deductions on these payments.

A former professional football player and a member of the National Football League’s Hall of Fame, Mix disguised the referral fees as donations to The Sixth Man Foundation and its Project Contact Africa. Kermit Washington, a former professional basketball player, ran both organizations and coordinated the referrals. The client referrals were for former professional athletes looking to file a workers’ comp claim in California.
Washington is currently under indictment for allegedly using the charity to buy gifts and jewelry, pay personal expenses such as rent and to go on vacation.

The plea agreement details a scheme whereby Mix made “donations” of $5,000 to $25,000 per referral. Overall, Mix admitted to making approximately $155,000 in donations for client referrals from 2010 through 2013.

Many of the referrals were for out-of-state professional athletes looking to cash in on a California workers’ comp claim. California endured a flood of claims from former professional athletes with little connection to the Golden State. In 2013 the Legislature enacted AB 1309 by then-Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) to crack down on the practice. The measure set tighter standards for out-of-state athletes to qualify for California workers’ comp benefits.

Mix plead guilty to a single tax fraud charge stemming from his 2012 return and a claimed deduction for $40,000 in charitable donations. Mix agreed to reimburse the Internal Revenue Service $49,543. He faces up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fine. Sentencing is still to be scheduled.