Lavrentiy Beria, head of Joseph Stalin’s secret police in the old Soviet Union, supposedly said, “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”
Recent articles have shown that the enforcement division of the IRS has admitted improperly targeting tax exempt organizations with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their name. Similar misconduct has been going on for a long time. Laws which cannot be understood by IRS agents and judges, much less citizens, coupled with gum shoe enforcement is wrong. It appears that I was improperly targeted and wrongfully convicted because I successfully represented citizens who disagreed with or had issues with the IRS and the government.
Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was a lawyer representing financially distressed farmers and a few small businesses. My representation re-organized numerous clients in bankruptcy court, many of whom had disputes with either the Department of Justice or the Internal Revenue Service. I settled disputes or litigated successfully against the government interests. Many of the litigations resulted in precedent setting decisions. In 1989, I represented a client in a federal criminal trial brought by the Internal Revenue Service alleging the kidnap of a federal agent. This was my only significant criminal trial throughout my practice. We won the case easily, which resulted in embarrassing publicity against the IRS. I was advised that “… you do not know who you are messing with.” I naively dismissed such talk as sour grapes.
However, beginning shortly after the IRS victory, my family and I were subjected to nine years of accusations of all kinds of fraudulent and criminal activities. These accusations were made public by way of demands to our doctors, dentists, clients, business associates, my children’s colleges and my banks for my family’s records. In addition, years of my family’s mail was intercepted. All records from fifteen years of business were demanded. The records we provided filled three station wagon loads of boxes. My wife and I and several business associates were also subjected to numerous interrogations and threats by a particularly offensive and uninformed IRS Criminal Investigation agent. After nine years, the IRS could find nothing. They then gave four years of my law office tax returns to an agent with instructions to not talk to me about anything contained in the tax returns. No audit of the returns had been performed.
Shortly before Christmas 1998, I was notified that I would be indicted. Not for tax evasion, but for filing “false statements” (deductions) on my tax returns. No allegation of hiding income, just a disagreement with deductions claimed on my returns. During the proceedings it became clear that the agent who examined my returns had no concept of accounting practice or the law and, unfortunately, was a stranger to the truth. Sadly, after a hotly contested motions hearing, an Assistant US Attorney (“AUSA”) finally confessed in open court that he was not familiar with the section of the law regarding one of the deductions that my motion on the law clearly showed was proper. The judge overruled the AUSA and dismissed that claim. Out of twenty six claimed false deductions brought before the jury, the court decided that twenty two of the claims were clearly wrong. The court instructed the jury to disregard the “evidence” they had heard regarding those claimed wrongs, but not to speculate as to why. Four items were presented to the jury for deliberation. The jury was instructed that they need not find any tax due. They were not instructed regarding the law on those deductions.
I was convicted and sentenced to a year in federal prison. I was not allowed to stay out pending appeal and denied access to a proper law library. Both the trial court and the court of appeals ruled that since I represented myself, I had waived the right to access a library. Finally, despite telling me in writing I need not file a formal brief and ignoring the numerous detailed filings regarding the law filed with the court, the Clerk of Courts dismissed my appeal for failure to file a formal brief. I filed a motion to overrule the dismissal by the clerk which remains pending for now over ten years, completely ignored by the judges of the court of appeals.
I served my year in prison and one year probation. The court demanded that I begin paying taxes “due and owing” or return to prison. I refused to admit that any taxes were due and owing and insisted that the civil process go forward. I fully expected to be sent back to prison. Finally, just before the hearing where I was to be sent back to prison, the court realized that it had not and could not determine taxes due and owing in a criminal proceeding but, nonetheless, extended the probation by a year. Still, no taxes had been assessed by the IRS. When an assessment was finally made, I was able to pursue the civil appeals. After several months of stalling by the IRS, the civil appeals officer ruled that my deductions were entirely proper and that no tax was then or ever owed on the returns in question. The IRS has failed and refuses to provide me the formal report on the appeal, however they did acknowledge that no tax was ever owed.
To this day, the court of appeals still refuses to act on my appeal and I remain a convicted felon, an ex-con and forever publicly disgraced by the government. My professional career was ended by the investigation, my liberty taken from me and numerous constitutional rights such as voting in many states and the right to bear arms are denied me. During the period of fighting over probation and taxes due, I suffered a massive heart attack and stopped breathing. According to the doctor, the only reason I was revived was that I was sitting talking to the doctor when the attack occurred.
I heard a recent poll that showed more people fear the government than terrorists. I have always been a man who does not give up easily on an idea simply because it is complicated or difficult. However, this ordeal for me and my family has caused me to pause. The ease with which my liberty and our public lives have been destroyed by a few evil, fearful or misguided people, aided and abetted by numerous responsible people who failed to act, indicated to me that further fighting might not be wise. My voice of dissent has been frozen — not just chilled. However, it may now time for us all to bring this conduct to light, condemn it and correct it.