Jennifer Diaz gets probation on tax charges

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A federal judge has sentenced Jennifer Diaz, former wife of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr., to two years probation for tax evasion.

U.S. District Judge Walter Gex III on Tuesday also ordered Jennifer Diaz to pay restitution in the amount the IRS determines she owes.

However, attorney Gerald Maples, a friend of the Diaz family, said the IRS may have miscalculated the returns in question and may owe her a refund.

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Jennifer Diaz was entangled in a federal bribery trial with her former husband until she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of filing false tax returns.

Jennifer Diaz had been accused of participating in a scheme in which her ex-husband and two former lower court judges allegedly took cash, loans and gifts in exchange for courtroom victories.

She struck a deal with prosecutors to escape the more serious bribery charges. Oliver Diaz was acquitted of the bribery charges after a three-month trail last summer. In April, he was cleared of tax evasion charges similar to those for which Jennifer Diaz pleaded guilty.

Her sentencing had been delayed until after Oliver Diaz’s tax evasion trial because prosecutors did not want to taint the potential jury pool with pretrial publicity.

The government alleged the Diazes underreported their income by $25,000 in 1999. The government also charged that in 2000 and 2001 the Diazes failed to pay more than $42,000 in taxes on income they disguised as “loan repayments” from Diaz’s 2000 re-election campaign.