A Lackawanna County attorney who was investigated for her handling of child custody disputes pleaded guilty Monday to tax evasion, bringing to a close one chapter of an investigation into the county's family court system.
The plea comes 10 months after a grand jury issued an indictment against Ms. Ross, who has been heavily criticized by several parents who claimed she coerced them into following unreasonable recommendations and forced them to pay fees for services they neither wanted nor needed.
Speaking after the hearing, Ms. Ross' attorney, David Solfanelli, stressed the plea, entered before Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, had no connection to any allegations of misconduct involving her handling of cases. It deals solely with her failure to report income.
"Some people may perceive it, but it had nothing to do with her job performance," Mr. Solfanelli said. "It has to deal with reporting taxes."
The county paid Ms. Ross a retainer of $38,000. She was also permitted to privately bill parents $50 per hour. The investigation revealed she failed to report the private fees paid to her in 2009 and 2010.
Under a plea deal, Ms. Ross pleaded guilty to one count of attempted income tax evasion for 2009. In exchange, a second tax charge was dropped.
In a related case, Ms. Ross' husband, Walter Pietralczyk Jr., pleaded guilty on Dec. 4 to filing a false tax return for 2009.
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