Hamline law professor found guilty in tax case

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2011 - 9:40 PM

Robin Magee was convicted of failing to file state tax returns; Hamline University said it will review court record.

Robin K. Magee, an associate professor at Hamline University School of Law, was convicted Tuesday of four gross-misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return.

Still, after the verdicts were read, Magee, 48, said she considered it a vindication of sorts. She had been charged with 19 counts of failure to file tax returns, failure to pay tax and tax evasion. On the eve of her trial, prosecutors dismissed 15 of the charges, mostly felonies.

"I didn't owe one penny to the state," Magee said. "I didn't evade; I wasn't dishonest. They presented me as fraudulent and someone who didn't regard the tax obligation. I've been a robust taxpayer and the evidence showed that today."

Magee is not likely to face any jail time at sentencing, set for April 1. She was accused of failure to file Minnesota individual tax returns for the tax years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. She made in excess of $80,000 at Hamline in each of those years.

It's not clear what will become of Magee's job at Hamline. Law School Dean Donald Lewis issued a statement Tuesday, saying, "Her actions are contrary to the values of our law school where we expect faculty to lead by example in teaching respect for the rule of law. We are disappointed in Professor Magee's conduct, and in the coming weeks we will review the record of the criminal proceedings to determine any next steps that should be taken by the law school."

The criminal complaint said Magee told investigators that she couldn't get her documents organized and didn't understand tax law. Her biography on the Hamline website said that when she was in private practice, she specialized in criminal, entertainment and tax law.

Jeffrey Slater, an investigator for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, testified at Magee's trial that she had a long history of contacts with people in the agency's individual income tax and collection divisions.

She received notices each year that she was required to file a tax return and that if she didn't, one would be filed for her. In 1998, 1999 and 2000 through 2003, the Revenue Department filed commissioner-filed returns (CFRs) on Magee's behalf with limited information from W2 forms and bank records. No CFRs were filed for 2004 through 2007, Slater said. Magee filed returns for 2004 through 2006 in 2009. Her 2007 return hasn't been filed yet, Slater said.

Magee's defense attorney, Andrew Birrell, acknowledged that Magee had a long relationship with the Revenue Department and said that year after year she got notices saying that if she didn't file a return, the department would file one for her. "She's following the rules that they gave her," he said.

Martin Cole of the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board said it cannot recommend Magee face disciplinary action because she is not a licensed attorney in the state.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992

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