North Carolina attorney pleads guilty in tax case

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina attorney is awaiting sentencing after federal prosecutors say he illegally spent at least $297,000 from his law firm on plastic surgery, luxury cars and a boat.

The U.S. attorney for western North Carolina announced that John Francis Hanzel of Cornelius pleaded guilty on Friday in Charlotte court to filing a false tax return and now faces up to three years in prison. The Charlotte Observer reports Hanzel declined comment on Saturday.

An indictment and records show Hanzel never paid himself a law firm salary, writing checks instead from his firm account for personal and living expenses.

A news release from prosecutor Andrew Murray's office says Hanzel hid money from the IRS by living out of his business bank account and falsely deducting personal expenses as business expenses.