NEW ORLEANS — Wednesday was the first full day of testimony in the tax fraud trial of District Attorney Jason Williams and his law office partner, Nicole Burdett.
Federal prosecutors dove right in, calling the pair’s tax preparer, Henry Timothy, to the stand. He says he falsified tax returns as instructed by Williams and Burdett.
Prosecutors began laying the foundation for the scheme they said Burdett and Williams came up with to falsify thousands in business expenses and file fraudulent claims with Timothy. Prosecutors allege they knew Timothy would do their bidding and wouldn’t ask questions.
Timothy said made-up expense numbers came from Burdett and Williams. "We kept increasing the deductions to where they seemed unreasonable," Timothy said.
"I felt pressure and I felt like I was helping them," Timothy said later.
But the defense team has tried to paint him as a tax cheat wrongly trusted to do his job.
They dug into his decades of experience as a tax preparer; laying out for the jury that hundreds of people and many companies trusted him to do their taxes.
Timothy has admittedly inflated numbers for other clients and pleaded guilty to falsifying his own taxes.
Defense attorney Lisa Wayne tried to show to the court that Timothy wasn’t thorough when Williams and Burdett trusted him to do their taxes, didn’t keep good records, and didn’t ask if they had documents to prove their expenses.
“I just trusted the numbers that were given to me,” Timothy said.
The jury is already looking at Burdett and Williams’ tax documents, amended returns, and discrepancies. Timothy will resume his testimony Thursday.