Gilded Cage: Jailbird Contractor Sentenced to Live in the $5 Million Mansion That He Upgraded Through His Tax Evasion Scheme

250px-de_morgan_-_guilded_cageNow this is a sentence that most of my clients would relish. Pittsburgh contractor William G. Tomko Jr. was convicted of using his $5 million mansion as part of a tax evasion scheme where he avoided $228,000 in taxes by having work on the mansion disguised as payments for work done at five area schools. U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster sentenced Tomko to have to live in the mansion as his punishment under a sentence of three years’ probation with one year to be spent on house arrest. Tomko’s cell will be a 8,000-square-foot mansion on eight acres and with $1.8 million in furnishings and $81,000 in fine art. I hope that he can hold up under the pressure of living in this particular cellblock. A divided court of appeals panel has upheld the sentence.


Under Lancaster’s sentence, Tomko will have to pay a $250,000 fine, serve 250 hours of community service and undergo alcohol treatment. Tomko could have received 12 to 18 months in prison,

The Third Circuit divided 2-1 in 2007 over the questionable sentence and now the full court has upheld the sentence. Eight votes to uphold the sentence while five dissented In his dissent, Circuit Judge D. Michael Fischer wrote that “The perverse irony of this gilded cage confinement was not lost on the government, it is not lost on us, and it would not be lost on any reasonable public observer of these proceedings, including those would-be offenders who may be contemplating the risks associated with willful tax evasion.”

In support of the judges in the majority, such decisions are generally left to the discretion of the trial judge. It was Lancaster who erred in his judgment, but the judges clearly did not want to reduce the discretion of judges over this one bad call. Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote that “[a]lthough we agree with the government that the sort of ‘gilded cage’ confinement imposed here has a certain unseemliness to it, we do not believe that this condition of sentence, by itself, constitutes an abuse of discretion.”

For the opinion, click here.

For the full story, click here.

8 thoughts on “Gilded Cage: Jailbird Contractor Sentenced to Live in the $5 Million Mansion That He Upgraded Through His Tax Evasion Scheme

  1. I would love to be confined to a place like that right now and I haven’t violated any laws! I disagree with the majority opinion because this criminal does not have to pay any price for his activities. If I live in a condo in a lesser neighborhood, and I do the same crime, do I get to live in my condo? The answer is probably not. This guy tried to bilk the taxpayers and he gets to stay home. His home should have bars on the windows and razor wire around the property and some “friendly” roommates.

  2. You know I have heard about people getting these type of plush treatments in sentences. Specifically a Florida or Utah medical professional was sentenced to house arrest. The sentencing guideline would have been about 18 months because of no prior history with the law or judicial system.

    He screwed up and was sentenced to 5 years. The underlying charge, get this was Solicitation of Murder. Apparently he was trying to gain an upper hand in a divorce settlement.

    Go Figure. Maybe he will make it maybe he won’t.

  3. A person looking for a little ad hoc justice would find and relocate several termite colonies, maybe a liberal application of inner city roaches of the New Orleans variety – you know the type that can carry off small children. The kind that laugh at pesticide and when you stomp them it just pisses them off. Wharf rats make a lovely house warming gift too.

    Not to give anyone ideas. :D

  4. it’s a sad day when a modicum of true justice would have to be metted out by the people, because the system won’t punish the monied even if every dollar was stolen from seniors retirement accounts.
    As a aside to Buddha, there is one smaller variety of cockroach that is practically immune to all forms of poison. Only disposing of all belonging can rid you of them personally. For a buildin, the remedy is fire.

  5. I am shocked and flabbergasted at the severe price this man has to pay. I sure hope he’s learned his lesson and I hope the trial and appeals judges spend their booty wisely.

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