Jerry R. Williamson, who allegedly promoted tax avoidance strategies to the actor Wesley Snipes and thousands of other customers of the Florida-based American Rights Litigators/Guiding Light of God Ministries (ARL), pleaded guilty to mail fraud in Federal court in Washington DC on Friday April 24 in connection with the schemes. Williamson, who was indicted last year along with Snipes's tax adviser Eddie Ray Kahn and three other associates, faces up to 20 years in prison.
Williamson admitted that he that he sent a fictitious "Bill of Exchange" purporting to be drawn upon the U.S. Treasury to the Bureau of Land Management of the Department of the Interior. The worthless bills of exchange were mailed to the IRS as payment for federal tax obligations, said Norman C. Meadows, a special agent and spokesman for the IRS in Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Williamson and four co-defendants, Eddie Ray Kahn, Stephen C. Hunter, Danny True, and Allan J. Tanguay, were indicted in September 2008, by a federal grand jury and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and mail fraud, the North Country Gazette reports. The defendants were alleged to have sold the worthless bills of exchange and promoted other tax avoidance schemes. During the period that Kahn led ARL, from 1996 to 2004, ARL enrolled more than 4,000 customers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several foreign countries.
Williamson's sentencing is scheduled for September 18. The trial for the remaining defendants is scheduled to begin in November 2009.
Kahn was convicted in February 2008 of conspiracy to defraud the government and making a false claim and is currently serving a ten-year sentence. Douglas Rosile, an associate, received four and a half years.
Snipes was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file Federal income tax returns, but acquitted of the two felonies charges of conspiracy and making a false claim. He was recently granted permission to leave the country for film work while appealing his conviction and 36-month sentence.
Snipes violated court order but gets a pass