The D.C. Bar yesterday filed formal notice with the D.C. Court of Appeals that the attorney who now represents mayoral aide Joseph P. Yeldell was convicted a year ago of failure to pay $2,782.92 in local taxes on income earned in 1973 and 1975.
John A. Shorter Jr. was sentenced in D.C. Superior Court last September to pay a $1,000 fine and was placed on one year probation by Judge Fred B. Ugast.
Shorter, 50, a well known defense attorney, agreed to represent Yeldell after Yeldell's first lawyer, Curtis R. Smothers asked a U.S. District Court judge to take him off the case. Yeldell is charged with bribery and conspiracy in connection with the award of a city lease to developer Dominic F. Antonelli Jr. Antonelli also was charged in an indictment last April with bribery and conspiracy.
Sources have said that one reason Smothers asked to withdraw from the case was Yeldell's refusal to pay his attorneys.
In a telephone interview, Shorter said that publicity about his tax cases was "very distressing" and "not fair" to Yeldell. Shorter declined to discuss why the taxes were unpaid, describing the situation as "very personal."
It is now up to the Court of Appeals to decide whether Shorter's action constitutes a serious enough crime to warrant his suspension from the practice of law, according to D.C. Bar Counsel Fred Grabowsky. The court could refer the case to its Board of Professional Responsibility or take on action at all on the case, Grabowsky said.
Shorter pleaded guilty to the two charges, which are midsemeanors, in May 1977, at which time the D.C. government agreed to drop six other charges against Shorter for failure to pay an additional $11,901.29 in individual income tax on money earned from 1968 through 1972 and in 1974.