Five promoters of Florida-based tax defier organization, American Rights Litigators/Guiding Light of God Ministries (ARL), were charged with selling worthless "bills of exchange" and promoting other schemes to orchestrate tax fraud, according to an indictment which was unsealed last week, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Defendants Eddie Ray Kahn, Stephen C. Hunter, Danny True, Jerry R. Williamson and Allan J. Tanguay, all of Florida, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on Sept. 3, 2008.
The 12-count indictment charges all five defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit mail fraud. In addition, each defendant is charged with one or more counts of mail fraud. The indictment further alleges that Kahn founded and led ARL from 1996 through 2004. During that time period, according to the indictment, ARL enrolled more than 4,000 customers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several foreign countries. Defendants Hunter, True, Williamson, and Tanguay allegedly worked at ARL with Kahn to develop and sell tax defiance schemes based on deliberate misrepresentations of the legal foundation of the tax system.
According to the indictment, the purpose of the tax defiance schemes promoted by the defendants was to thwart the IRS in its attempts to assess and collect taxes by various means. These schemes included manufacturing and selling worthless "bills of exchange" supposedly drawn on the U.S. Treasury for customers to use in purported payment of their taxes, as well as producing false and harassing complaints against IRS employees that were sent to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in Washington, D.C.
Also, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against ARL which resulted in a December 2003 preliminary injunction ordering ARL to cease selling its schemes. The indictment alleges that the defendants continued to prepare fraudulent and obstructive correspondence to the IRS on behalf of ARL customers, even after the entry of that order.
"Under the Tax Defier Initiative, the Tax Division is committed to vigorously enforcing the tax laws in an effort to stop promoters of tax defiance schemes," said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division.
"It is alleged in this scheme that the defendants manufactured and sold worthless 'bills of exchange' for use to pay tax liabilities," said Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "We take this type of illegal activity very seriously and will continue to investigate and work with the Department of Justice on allegations such as these."
Assistant Attorney General Hochman commended Victor W. Lessoff, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Field Office in Tampa, Fla., and the IRS Special Agents in the case, as well as Tax Division attorneys Jeffrey McLellan, Kenneth Vert and Tino Lisella, who are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.