Menu Close

A federal grand jury has indicted Los Angeles attorney Milton C. Grimes with the evasion of payment of his individual income taxes and willful failure to pay taxes.

Grimes served as the lead attorney for Rodney King 30 years ago, and was responsible for prevailing in a $3.8 million civil claim on behalf of King. Rodney King was the black motorist whose beating at the hands of LAPD sparked the deadly 1992 riots and led to local and national police reform.

It is not the first time tax charges have been leveled against Grimes. Not long after the lawyer made national headlines representing accused murderer Sheryl Lynn Massip – who was charged with running over her infant son with the family Volvo in 1987, Grimes pled guilty in 1988 to three counts of willfully failing to file a tax return. (Rev. & Tax. Code, § 19401.)

According to the California Supreme Court records (51 Cal.3d 199 (1990) 793 P.2d 61 270 Cal. Rptr. 855) Grimes was suspended from the practice of law for a period of two years, but the order of suspension was stayed, and he was placed on probation for two years upon conditions including sixty days’ actual suspension, and that he comply with the other conditions of probation. Grimes acknowledged the omission in 1988 when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tax charge in Orange County Municipal Court. He was ordered to pay delinquent taxes of $1,269, along with a $4,000 fine, and to perform 100 hours of community service.

The current indictment filed in March 2024, charges Grimes with one count of attempted tax evasion and four counts of willful failure to pay taxes. He is expected to be arraigned in United States District Court on April 10.

According to the indictment, Grimes owed the IRS more than $1.7 million in taxes for tax years 2010 and 2014.

The IRS tried to collect the unpaid taxes from Grimes by, among other things, levying his personal bank accounts. In response to IRS collection efforts, from 2014 through 2020, Grimes allegedly engaged in a scheme to thwart the tax levies by keeping his personal bank account balances low.

Grimes deposited the money he earned from representing clients into his law firm’s business bank accounts, and then he routinely purchased cashier’s checks and withdrew cash from those business bank accounts, the indictment states.

By not depositing income earned into his personal accounts, Grimes allegedly avoided IRS collection efforts. With this scheme, Grimes allegedly withdrew approximately $16 million in funds from the business accounts in cashier’s checks during those years, rather than paying the amount owed to the IRS.

Grimes also allegedly filed individual income tax returns for tax years 2018 through 2021 reporting that he owed approximately $700,000 in taxes. Grimes allegedly did not, and has not, paid the taxes that he self-reported he owes.

In total, Grimes is alleged to have caused a tax loss of approximately $2,418,050 to the IRS.

If convicted, Grimes faces up to five years in prison for the tax evasion count and up to one year in prison for each count of willful failure to pay taxes. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.