Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DOJ Alumni Reunion Deferred (4/9/14)

Representatives of the DOJ Tax Division Alumni approached the Tax Division about the possibility of an alumni reunion contemporaneous with the ABA Tax Section May Meeting in DC this year.  We were unable to come to an agreement.  The Committee will continue to consider an alumni event in the, hopefully, not too distant future.

Jack Townsend

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lee Vaseliades' Death (4/4/13)

Leon "Lee" William Vaseliades died on 3/31/14.  His obituary from the Houston Chronicle is here.  A cut and paste of the obituary is (with JAT bold-facing his DOJ Tax service):
Leon "Lee" William Vaseliades, of Houston, Texas, passed away on the 31st of March 2014, at the age of 81. He was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina on the 18th of November 1932, to Eleni and William Vaseliades. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his father and mother and law, Peter and Tessie Karakitsos. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joan Karakitsos Vaseliades of Houston, Texas. He is also survived by his son, William Lee Vaseliades and his wife Rosemary of Corpus Christi, Texas; his daughter Eleni Vaseliades Jankosky and her husband Joe of Los Angeles, California; grandchildren Joanna Lee Vaseliades, Leon Peter Vaseliades and Michael Leonidas Jankosky; his sister Maria Papadopoulos of Houston, Texas; his two brothers Achilles and Constantine Vaseliades of Spartanburg, S.C.; his sister in law and her husband, Janet and John Conomos of Pittsburgh, PA, and numerous nieces and nephews.  
Lee graduated Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Vanderbilt University in 1957, earning his undergraduate and law degrees simultaneously. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant at Ft. Meade, Maryland in the Military Intelligence and Judge Advocate General's Office. In 1959, he began work in Washington, D.C. as senior trial attorney in the tax division of the United States Department of Justice. In 1967 he moved his family to Houston, Texas, where he practiced law in real estate, tax and banking until his retirement in the mid 1990's. During his career, he was admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the State of Texas, the State of South Carolina, the District of Columbia, and the United States Court of Military Appeals. He was also a member of the American Bar Association, American Judicature Society, Texas Association of Bank Council, the Houston Bar Association and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral. 
During his retirement, he enjoyed taking long walks with his grandson, Peter, and eating dinner with his family every Sunday afternoon. He was a man of honesty and integrity and strived to pass those qualities on to his children and grandchildren. His quiet, but strong presence, will be greatly missed.  
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock this afternoon until seven o'clock this evening, Wednesday the 2nd of April, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston, where the Trisagion Prayers will commence at seven o'clock. 
The funeral service is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Thursday, the 3rd of April, at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3511 Yoakum Boulevard in Houston, where the Cathedral Clergy are to officiate. 
Pallbearers are L. Peter Vaseliades, Joe Jankosky, Dean Papadopoulos, William Papadopoulos, Alexander Papandreou, Thomas Johnson, Costa Kouzounis, and John Cannon.
Honorary pallbearers are John Conomos, Constantine Vaseliades, Achilles Vaseliades, William R. Wallace and Stuart Hoff. 
The interment will follow via an escorted cortege, at Memorial Oaks Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorials in memory of Leon William Vaseliades may be directed to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3511 Yoakum Blvd, Houston, TX 77006. - 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Women of DOJ 1937, including Helen R. Carloss (1/2/14)

I picked up this posting of a list of Women Lawyers at DOJ in 1937.  Dan Ernst, Women Lawyers at the Department of Justice, 1937 (Legal History Blog), here.  The actual list is here. The list does not break down the women by division.  Wikipedia says that the Tax Division was formed in 1934.  See Wikipedia entry here.

At least one on the list -- Helen R. Carloss -- handled tax cases, including in the Supreme Court.  I recognized her name and so first did a Google search and then a LEXIS-NEXIS search.  I report some of the results below.

Before reporting the results on Helen Carloss, however, I want to say that I don't mean to slight any of the others, particularly those who might have worked on tax cases or for the Tax Division after it was formed.  I am just time limited, so any reader who wants to pick one or more names to write a blog entry or a comment on, please do so and let me know.

An ancestry entry is here, which says:
Helen Carloss earned plaudits from Justice William O. Douglas for her skill as an advocate for the government in tax cases from the 1920s to the 1940s.
Source: The United States Supreme Court: The Pursuit of Justice - by Christopher L. Tomlins, Houghton Mifflin - 2005.
The same entry has the following which is attributed as an article in the Washington Post on March 28, 1934:
The Washington Post ¦ Wednesday, March 28, 1934 ¦ page 15
Woman Attorney Dashes About the Country Defending Government in Tax Cases
Assistant to Attorney General Handles Much Work on Trains
Helen Carloss Is First Women to Argue Cases Before All U.S. Courts of Appeal; Went From Teaching to Government Work 
Escape! That is what Government Work represents to some women. Escape from the dull, colorless life of a small town. A school teacher have up a position in a little Mississippi town to accept an humble clerkship with the Government because she wanted to get away from teaching. She wanted to be where things were happening. Now the former school teacher and clerk is a special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States. 
This is the ninth in a series of articles telling of women with interesting Government positions. 
By Virginia Lee Warren

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Judge Leon Enters Prominent NSA Decision (12/17/13)

A DOJ Tax alum has been in the news yesterday, today and presumably for some time in the future.  Richard J. Leon, district court judge in the District of Columbia, entered a decision questioning the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's collection and use of phone records.

According to his court web bio, here, Judge Leon was formerly "Senior Trial Attorney in the Criminal Section of the Tax Division."

For an article on the case, see Charlie Savage, Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records (NYT 12/16/13), here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rob Kovacev Moves from DOJ Tax to Steptoe & Johnson (12/10/13)

Rob Kovacev has joined Steptoe & Johnson.  See Senior Litigatoin Counsel in Tax Division Joins Steptoe (Main Justice 12/10/13), here.

His bio with the firm is here.  The portions dealing with his Tax Division experience is:
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Kovacev was a senior litigation counsel in the United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, responsible for litigating some of the largest and most complex civil tax cases in the nation.  In that position, Mr. Kovacev worked closely with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Large Business & International (LB&I) Division and top management of the Tax Division to shape litigation strategy on high-priority tax enforcement issues.   
Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel in several complex tax cases in the pharmaceutical, financial services, energy, and government contracts industries.  These cases involved cross-border transactions, Section 482 disputes, claims for research credits and foreign tax credits, corporate reorganizations and acquisitions, and valuation of pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property.  The amounts at issue in each of these cases ranged from $10 million to more than $1 billion in claimed tax benefits.  Mr. Kovacev was also lead counsel in several important summons enforcement matters, including the Wells Fargo tax accrual workpapers case. 
Mr. Kovacev developed particular knowledge regarding the IRS’s use of the economic substance, substance over form, and sham partnership doctrines to disallow the tax benefits of transactions that comply with the technical requirements of the tax code.  For example, Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel for the United States in AWG Leasing, involving a cross-border leveraged leasing transaction.  The court in AWG Leasing disallowed over $100 million in tax benefits from that transaction, and sustained the IRS’s determination of penalties against the taxpayer.  Mr. Kovacev was also on the trial team for the Southgate Master Fund case, in which the court disallowed more than $1 billion in tax benefits arising from a distressed debt transaction based on the court’s interpretation of the sham partnership doctrine.

  • Recipient of the John Marshall Award, the highest award for trial of litigation given by the Department of Justice, 2009
  • Recognized as Outstanding Attorney by the Department of Justice, Tax Division, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • Recipient of the Mitchell Rogovin Award for providing outstanding support to the Office of Chief Counsel by the IRS, 2009 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tax Division Attorneys Receive Awards at DOJ Awards Program (11/26/13)


The DOJ Press Release on the Awards for all divisions is here.  It is quite a long list.  Excerpts for DOJ Tax attorneys are:
The Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service is presented to the following team for its successful defense of the Affordable Care Act, a landmark piece of legislation. With high stakes and a staggering volume of work to be done, this team withstood intense pressure and showcased superb litigation skills in drafting the law’s defense to constitutional challenges and lawsuits. 
* * * * 
From the Appellate Staff of the Tax Division, recipients include: Gilbert S. Rothenberg, Section Chief; Francesca Ugolini, Attorney; and Teresa E. McLaughlin, Reviewer.  
* * * * 
The Edward H. Levi Award for Outstanding Professionalism and Exemplary Integrity pays tribute to the memory and achievements of former Attorney General Edward H. Levi, whose career as an attorney, law professor, dean and public servant exemplified these qualities in the best traditions of the department. This year, the award is presented to Ronald A. Cimino, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Matters in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division. 
Cimino, through his nearly 40-year career, has enabled the government to achieve successful results in many important criminal tax cases, each time demonstrating himself to be a primer criminal litigator and senior manager. Over the course of his service to the department, Cimino has mentored and inspired countless attorneys, and is held in the highest regard within the tax community. 
 * * * * 
Also receiving the Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention is the team leading efforts to prosecute tax refund fraud committed through identity theft, which victimizes unsuspecting, law-abiding citizens and steals billions of dollars from the government. This team brought great expertise and energy to the prosecution of individuals and groups who commit these crimes by pushing for long prison sentences that serve as a strong deterrent for would-be future offenders.  From the Southern Region of the Criminal Enforcement Section of the Tax Division, recipients include: Larry J. Wszalek, Assistant Chief; and Michael C. Boteler, Charles M. Edgar Jr., Justin K. Gelfand, and Jason H. Poole, Trial Attorneys.  From the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, recipients include: Todd A. Brown, Assistant U.S. Attorney. 
* * * * 
The John Marshall Award for the Handling of Appeals is presented to Alexander P. Robbins, a Trial Attorney in the Criminal Appeals and Tax Enforcement Policy Section of the Tax Division.  Robbins is awarded for his extraordinary service to the department for representing the government on tax matters before the Supreme Court and other appellate and district courts.  He has handled the most difficult tax matters for the department, including successfully advancing the application of the required records doctrine to grand jury subpoenas issued in international tax cases.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Death of Peggy Gooding, Front Office Secretary (11/12/13)

John Murray advises by email today:

Today's Washington Post contained the death notice for Peggy Gooding, a front office secretary in Tax and other DOJ offices for many years. Only us real old timers will remember her. She was a very nice, very classy lady. She was 89.

The obituary is here.