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Friday, May 14, 2010

Taxes Got You Down? Try 22 Counts of Evasion and Fraud

The South Dakota media finally get around to transcribing this May 7 press release from U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announcing the conviction last week of Thomas R. Kelley, age 53, of Salem, S.D. A jury found Mr. Kelley guilty of "filing a false income tax return, impeding the Internal Revenue Service, two counts of tax evasion, three counts of willful failure to file tax returns, and 15 counts of passing fictitious United States Treasury obligation."

Mr. Kelley defended his behavior by claiming under oath that he was just following tax advice from Austin Gary Cooper of the apparently defunct Ten Foundation (also known as the Taking Back America Foundation... and again, I ask, taking it back from whom?). Mr. Cooper was convicted in 1990 for tax evasion. Cooper's bogus advice including telling people to renounce their United States citizenship in favor of "American" citizenship. (Get a taste of that nuttiness from this 2001 report.) Cooper and his wife Martha were ordered by the U.S. District Court of Colorado to stop peddling their bogus, illegal tax plans and to inform all of their duped customers of said court order. The Coopers failed to comply, which earned Mr. Cooper six months in federal prison for criminal contempt. (Wife Martha would have gotten time, too, but she didn't show for that 2006 hearing and was deemed a fugitive.)

As Mr. Kelley awaits sentencing on August 2, perhaps he will consider seeking tax advice from someone other than convicted felons.

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