IRS HQ in DC

Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Texas inventor Thomas Selgas handled his personal affairs very differently than other Americans — with the help of his civil attorney, John Green, an Idaho state lawmaker, writes Dallas Morning News reporter Kevin Krause, who covered Green's federal trial in Texas. Selgas converted all his money into gold coins. His business partnership paid him with the coins, and he used the gold pieces to buy his East Texas ranch. He did not use a bank, instead opting to keep all his money in Green’s lawyer trust account. Such accounts are normally used to hold clients’ money for short periods. But for more than a decade, Green used that money to pay Selgas’ expenses via his credit card bills.

But the pair’s idiosyncratic ways were not harmless error, federal prosecutors say. Rather, it was part of a calculated scheme on the part of two seasoned tax protesters to try to dodge the tax man.

A federal jury in Dallas deliberated for about three hours on Wednesday before finding Green and Selgas guilty on all counts after a week-and-a-half trial, Krause writes. Selgas was convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and Green was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

The trial highlighted ways in which tax protesters, also known as tax defiers, will try to avoid paying taxes. In this case, that amounted to using discredited U.S. currency theories based on gold, as well as their use of a special lawyer-client account that is safe from creditors. They studied the IRS and its procedures and flooded the agency with “gobbledygook” documents in order to “gum up the works,” prosecutors said.

“These are smart men,” Mara Strier, a trial attorney with the Justice Department’s tax division, told jurors Wednesday during closing arguments. “This is not an honest misunderstanding.” You can read Krause's full story here at dallasnews.com. Also, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a press release on the conviction; you can read it here.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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