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Lawyer with ties to Brookfield, Wis. sentenced to four Years in Federal Prison

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//December 1, 2023//

DOJ

Department of Justice, Washington D.C. Staff Photo Steve Schuster

Lawyer with ties to Brookfield, Wis. sentenced to four Years in Federal Prison

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//December 1, 2023//

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United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced on November 30, 2023, Matthew Browndorf (age: 53) was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for his willful failure to account for and pay over taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Browndorf was also ordered to pay over $830,000 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.

Publicly filed documents reflect that Browndorf—a lawyer—owned and operated a holding company named Plutos Sama, LLC. Through Plutos Sama, Browndorf also owned subsidiary law firms across the United States, including BP Peterman, which was based in Brookfield, Wisconsin. As Plutos Sama’s CEO, Browndorf was responsible for ensuring that Plutos Sama and BP Peterman appropriately: collected and remitted payroll taxes; filed the appropriate payroll tax forms with the IRS; remitted funds associated with their employee pension benefit plan; and remitted funds associated with their health care benefit program.

Authorities say Browndorf unlawfully failed to fulfill these obligations. All told, the total tax loss associated with Browndorf’s crimes exceeded $5,000,000. In addition, Browndorf’s conduct hurt his employees. Court filings indicate that some employees were forced to move in with relatives or borrow money from friends. Others underwent serious medical procedures, unaware that Browndorf had failed to appropriately remit their
health insurance premiums, resulting in a lack of coverage and the need to pay out-ofpocket for their treatment.

Court filings also documented that Browndorf enjoyed substantial income by virtue of his law practice and other ventures, and nevertheless chose to use the funds associated with his crimes to fund a lavish lifestyle, featuring sports cars, private flights, club memberships, and luxurious vacations. Court filings also revealed that Browndorf committed additional misconduct while on court supervision, including possessing over $30,000 in stolen goods.

When imposing sentence, Judge J.P. Stadtmueller noted that the extent of harm Browndorf caused his victims “jump[ed] off the page.” Judge Stadtmueller also observed that Browndorf, as a lawyer, “had the skill set” to “know better” but nevertheless chose to enrich himself at his employees’ expense.

Browndorf is currently facing a separate federal prosecution for other federal crimes in the District of Maryland.

“Business owners who willfully flout our tax laws not only cause harm to every taxpayer but also put law-abiding businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” stated U.S. Attorney Haanstad.

“This is especially galling when professionals abuse positions of trust and use their criminal proceeds to fund extravagant lifestyles on the backs of their employees and other hardworking Americans. I commend the excellent work and collaboration by all involved in bringing this individual to justice,” Haanstad added.

“As a nation, we collectively rely on all citizens to meet their tax obligations,” said Justin Campbell, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation Chicago Field Office. “Individuals who attempt to evade paying their taxes add an unfair financial burden to honest taxpayers. IRS Criminal Investigation remains steadfast in its commitment to investigate and bring to justice those who attempt to sidestep their tax
obligations.”

Ruben R. Chapa, Chicago’s Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) commented, “EBSA will continue to work aggressively with our criminal law enforcement partners to address the financial harm caused by these types of schemes.” This matter was investigated by IRS-CI and EBSA. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Knight.

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