Shawn O’Connor, working with attorneys, helped lead many patriots to various levels of success in our criminal court system when they were charged criminally with failure to file an income tax return.  What is somewhat amazing are the diverse issues raised and the strategies employed to achieve victory.  And, keep in mind, a victory is all a matter of perspective when it comes to the outcome of a politically-charged criminal case.  For example, ---------

In North Dakota Five (5) people were charged with failure to file state income tax returns.  All five were acquitted by the jury.  The issue:  the defendants’ good faith belief as to what they sincerely believed the law was.  The defendants relied upon their belief that the income tax system was based upon voluntary compliance.  See the case of Flora v. United States, and the income tax regulations, which confirm this.  Also the Handbook for Special Agent’s has such a statement to that regard.  They also relied upon their belief that wages did not constitute income which was taxable.  Their reliance was based upon a variety of cases they had read and studied.  The relied upon the fact that they believed their Constitutionally protected rights would be violated if they filed tax returns.  The jury agreed that the defendants sincerely believed that the law did not require them to file returns.

In Fresno, California, Eules and Cindy Grigsby were acquitted for failure to file state income tax returns, 3 counts.  This was an interesting case as two issues were involved.  And, since, in California, your good faith belief is not a defense, a new defense strategy evolved.  The Gribsby’s did file what they considered returns with the state agency, but the agency did not agree they were returns so the state filed criminal charges.  Cindy, did not work outside the house, but, because of community property laws she was liable for half of Eules’ alleged tax debt.  Therefore, she was required to file a return and claim half of his income and the attendant liability.  However, she had a community property agreement in effect which disclaimed any marital interest in Eules’ income.  Thus, as a matter of law she wasn’t required to file a return and claim a liability on Eules’ income.  As for Eules, the jury decided that what Eules had filed were returns, even though the state didn’t like the returns.  The jury acquitted Eules on 2 out of 3 counts as the jury found he timely filed returns.  On the third charge, the jury wasn’t sure if the return was filed in a timely fashion, but some jurors thought the return was timely.  On that charge the jury was hung 11 to 2 in Eules’ favor.  The judge refused to allow the state to retry Eules on the hung count,stating that “[He] didn’t think the Grigsby’s were criminals.”

In San Jose, California Bruce Anderson was charged with failure to file state income tax returns.  Again, your good faith belief is not a defense.  This time the defense took the position that the state couldn’t prove Anderson didn’t file a return.  The defense was right.  Upon polling the jury after the conviction the jury was pretty sure Anderson hadn’t filed, but the state had failed to prove Anderson didn’t file.  In a related case, the jury was hung as to whether or not the defendant had filed or not.  The result, no conviction no retrial.

In Stockton, California Richarad Gallegos was charged with state income tax evasion, a felony.  This was a long arduous case which involved Richard’s good faith belief.  The case dragged on year after year.  Finally, at trial the jury acquitted Richard of the felony count of income tax evasion, but found him guilty of the lessor included offense of failure to file, which is an automatic charge in California if the proof supports the lessor included offense.  When the jury was polled we found that the jurors who refused to find Richard guilty of the felony, finally agreed to find him guilty of a misdemeanor.  They explained they did so as they did not want to see Richard retried and possibly found guilty of a felony.  The way the jurors figured they were doing him a favor.  As a consequence of this case the District Attorney in Stockton announced that he would never prosecute another failure to file income tax case again.  If the state wanted to file such a charge in Stockton the Attorney General had better be ready to come down and prosecute it.  As of this writing we do not know of any criminal charges brought against anyone in that County for failure to file a tax return.  A victory, you decide.

Ed Jester, out of San Jose, California was charged with failure to file a state income tax return.  Perhaps the longest running misdemeanor case in California history, Ed’s case went on for approximately seven years, on and off.  He was found guilty and served approximately 30 days in jail, on and off.  He was not required to file any returns or pay any taxes as a result of his conviction, since their was no probationary terms.  Go figure.  One thing for sure, the judge sure thought he had better things to do than handle these types of cases.  A victory, you decide.

Howard Romano, hailed from San Jose, California.  Howard was charged twice.  Once for failure to file a state income tax return, of which he was convicted.  However, after 10 days in jail he was released and given credit for full time served, a year.  Howard said when he was released he hit the ground running because he thought he was being set up.  Turned out he was.  Howard, following his prosecution, figured the coast was clear, moved to Oregon.  But California followed him and extradicted him back to California to stand felony income tax evasion charges for different years than for those for which he was previously charged.  In the end, Howard was convicted but it was reversed on appeal for the felony charges, but found guilty of the lessor included misdemeanor.  Out on bail during appeal, Howard faced re-sentencing after the conviction for the lessor included was affirmed.  A petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed prior to the re-sentencing.  A funny thing happened at the re-sentencing, though.  The judge gave Howard credit for all time served, credited those two weeks as full time served and released Howard, dismissing all charges.  No requirement to file returns, no payment of taxes, no probationary terms of release.  That was really strange.  Since when does a court dismiss all charges after re-sentencing a person?  Oh well, Howard is happy and living in Oregon.  Two bittersweet victories for the state, after all that work?  Perhaps, but Howard thinks he really won.  What do you think?

Greg and Susan Hutchins were charged with federal tax evasion in Los Angeles, California.  After the prosecution put on its case it requested a recess.  Realizing it hadn’t proved its case the government attorneys solicited a plea bargain from the Hutchins prior to the defense putting on its case.  The Hutchins’ attorney suggested taking the plea bargain on a misdemeanor, with no jail time, but a requirement to file all back tax returns.  Shawn spoke with Greg also, and suggested that Greg decline the plea bargain since the government’s case was so weak.  In the end, the Hutchins took the plea bargain, satisfied that no one was going to jail, and no one did.  Victory or not?  You decide.

Brad Laeger out of Louisiana was charged with failure to file a return and conspiracy.  Brad’s case was interesting because, as usual, the government over-charged him.  In other words, there was insufficient evidence of conspiracy, so he was acquitted on the conspiracy charge.  However, Brad was convicted of failure to file, seems the jury figured Brad had to be guilty of “something.”  In the end, Brad beat the worst charge, and now, the government owes him a whole lot of money which he is in the process of recovering.  This is an old trick the government pulls out of the hat all of the time.  Overcharge the defendant and hope the jury finds the victim guilty of something, anything.  Yup, that’s justice.

Bob Maddox, hailed from the back country of Southern California and was charged with failure to file a state income tax return.  Bob had a thing about courts.  Every time he approached one he started having heart palpitations.  Bob thought Courts were an evil place.  Who could call him wrong?  In the end, Bob took a plea agreement.  I guess these failure to file cases aren’t real popular in the California Courts, with judges or prosecutors.  In the end, the prosecutor offered Bob a deal, plead no contest, no probation, no requirement to file a return, pay no back taxes, but give the state $5,000.00 to leave Bob alone from now on.  Bob took the deal, the state took the money, and Bob was left alone.  Isn’t that what the Cosa Nostra does?  As far as Bob goes, he still calls it a win.

Louise and “Rennie” hailed from the Southern coast of California.  They were both charged with state income tax evasion.  This case went on for several years.  Tragically, during the pre-trial process “Rennie” passed away.  The state continued to prosecute Louise even though she never worked a day outside the house.  The community property laws came into play and the state was holding her responsible for half of “Rennie’s” tax liability.  Upon receiving a copy of the Renfro community property agreement the state finally offered Louise a deal – plead guilty to a misdemeanor, file a no liability return, and no jail time, no probation, no payment of taxes.  Louise told the state to take a hike.  She was ready to go to trial.  The state didn’t think that was a good idea.  All charges against Louise were eventually dropped prior to trial.

George Bics was charged by both the state of California and the IRS.  But where was George from?  Northern California. No, maybe Southern California? Or was it Central California?  The state first charged him with failure to file an income tax return.  They brought the charges in Southern California.  George said “no, that isn’t the right venue, I lived in Northern California at the time of the alleged crime.”  So the court moved the case to Northern California.  But, when it got there George argued that he may have lived in Southern California at the time he didn’t file, but he had moved before he was charged so the charges were proper in Southern California after all.  Back to Southern California George went.  But wait, the return was supposed to be filed in Sacramento so the charges really should be brought in Sacramento.  But no, the court thought it really ought to go back to Northern California, probably closer to Central California.  One thing for sure, the state didn’t know where to file the charges any longer.  So what did the state do?   They got tired of running around California and dropped all the charges.  But George wasn’t done.

Up popped the feds and charged George with tax evasion.  Again venue was an issue.  The case started in Southern California.  Was transferred to Northern California, then to Central California.  Finally venue was settled in Central California.  Two weeks before trial, the government dismissed the case in the interests of justice.  Why?  George doesn’t know.  George doesn’t care.  George doesn’t file returns, doesn’t pay income taxes, and doesn’t go to jail.

Egon Werk was charged with felony failure to file California State income tax returns and asaulting a police officer.  The assault charge was dropped prior to trial as it was bogus to begin with.  Once again venue raised its ugly head, and once again neither the Court nor the prosecution really knew where to file the case.  It was argued venue was proper in Southern California where Werk lived at the time the state discovered the crimes.  It was argued that venue was where Werk lived when he failed to timely file the returns.  It was argued venue was proper in Sacramento where the filing was supposed to take place.  It was argued it was a continuing crime and could be charged just about anywhere, except for one thing.  In order to be a continuing crime a return had to be filed.   Nobody really knew, and apparently nobody really cared because a plea bargain with which Egon could live with was offered which he accepted and  the felony charges were dropped.

Another case, who we will call John Doe for privacy purposes, as requested, took place in Southern California and once again the problematic venue issue was raised and the case was dropped by the State.

In Kansas a case was dismissed because the IRS agent lied to the Grand Jury during the indictment procedure.

In summation, over 60 per cent of the cases Shawn has been involved with were either a straight out win, or at least the result was acceptable to the victims of the government.  Many other cases were dropped because of plea bargains negotiated.  One thing, no one ever complained about the case being dismissed when they realized they weren’t going to jail.  And, after all, that is the power of government.  The threat and fear of going to jail.

The above represents twenty three people whose lives would have been vastly changed if not for the efforts of Shawn and the attorneys with whom he worked.  There are others.

Suffice it to say, if you are charged criminally for failure to file an income tax return and are in need of assistance, you might want to drop Shawn a line.  Whether the case was won, lost or a draw, Shawn has a world of knowledge and expertise in this area.

For More Information Contact:

Free Enterprise Society Services
1175 Shaw Avenue #104
PMB 393
Clovis, California 93612-3932
Telephone Number (559) 298-0929
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News Flash

Uncertainties of the Income Tax
(Courts At War with Themselves)

by Larry Becraft, Attorney

For several years now, a variety of high public officials have openly declared that the federal income tax laws are incredibly complex and need to be either substantially revised or scrapped.   But after making such statements, these officials invariably fail to identify what  specific parts of  the tax laws suffer from this condition, choosing instead to conceal them. Are the objectionable parts of the federal tax code secretly and quietly discussed behind closed Congressional committee doors? If they are, why doesn't someone inform the American public of these deficiencies so that they may likewise participate in this debate? Is it possible that it is the major and not various minor features of the tax laws which are complex, even uncertain? Is it possible that these major features are so fundamentally flawed that they simply cannot be repaired? If so, what is the legal consequence of this complexity?

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