This post was originally published on Forbes Jul 11, 2015
Today is the day of Kent Hovind's homecoming celebration. On Wednesday Doctor Dino commenced a period of home confinement to finish off the prison portion of the sentence for his 2006 conviction. Somewhat ironically, Janet Novack writes today about the Seventh Circuit upholding the sentence of Beanie Baby's Ty Warner who hid millions of income in a Swiss bank account. Warner was sentenced to zero prison time even though the guidelines called for around four years.
One of the mysteries of the Hovind case has been its failure to break into mainstream media. Hovind made the rounds of the right wing conspiracy alternative media, most notably Alex Jones, which embraced his religious persecution narrative. There has been some light coverage by the Pensacola New Journal, which had to pull its reporter from the courtroom in March to cover a tragic helicopter crash.
The Duggar Connection
So it was interesting that Hovind's homecoming was picked up by The Raw Story. Travis Gettys was entranced by a detail that I had noticed, but had not thought at all significant. Still don't. The title of the post was "Jim Bob Duggar welcomes home notorious tax-dodging creationist Kent Hovind from prison".
If like me you have cut the cable cord, you might not know who old Jim Bob is. Jim Bob is the father, literally, of a "reality" TV show called "19 Kids And Counting". There has been controversy of late because of the manner in which Mr. Duggar dealt with sexual abuse by his then fourteen-year-old son Josh over a decade ago.
Jim Bob Duggar was among those who went to Yazoo Mississippi to pick up Kent Hovind. You can see the picture in this clip.
I often lament that I am just a tax blogger not an investigative reporter. And in reading the work of Travis Gettys, it becomes clear what the difference is. Travis writes
Hovind was convicted in 2006 of structuring – that is, systematically withdrawing just under $10,000 from the bank to avoid currency reporting – and failing to file payroll returns for his employees, but he presents himself as a victim of an IRS attempt to silence his creationist views.
However, online videos and court records indicate Hovind is a tax protester who has engages in a variety of schemes cooked up by the sovereign citizen movement.
He claims in one online video that he had not filed an individual income tax return for 28 years and argues that most Americans are not obligated to pay income taxes.
It's almost like he has read my blog, but since he doesn't mention that[See Note], he must have put that together on short notice. Actually, it might be from what Rudy Davis calls the wickedpedia entry.
Eric Hovind had posted something favorable to Josh recently. I used to have this joke that you find out who your friends really are not when you have some triumph or some tragedy, but when you are accused of something vile. So I just don't get the intense negative reaction to the Hovinds and Duggars supporting one another.
Might The Structuring Conviction Be Reversed?
Listening to one of Kent's recent interviews, I heard him mention the Lang decision. I also noted in the Pensacola New Journal that Ernie Land, Kent's consigliere, indicated that Kent will be sticking with legal advice provided by the United States Justice Foundation, which was instrumental in getting Kent's contempt conviction reversed. This, to me anyway, is a good sign that Kent is going conventional in his legal reasoning and not following along with the "territorial jurisdiction" arguments that his codefendant Paul Hansen has been using to dig himself a deeper hole.
I discussed the implication of the Lang decision to Hovind back in December. Structuring is the systematic withdrawal or deposit of cash in amounts somewhat less than $10,000 in order to avoid currency reporting requirements. In Lang, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a single act of structuring requires at least two deposits or withdrawal. Applying that principle to Hovind, his indictment should only have had twenty odd counts of structuring rather than forty-five. That mistake, in principle, could void all the sturcturing charges.
I discussed the implications at some length with Professor Samuel Brunson. Given the way the federal sentencing guidelines work, throwing out the structuring might not have reduced the amount of time that Hovind served, but the forfeiture that resulted in the property seizure was due to the structuring. And steps Hansen and Hovind took that led to the second prosecution were in reaction to the property seizure.
Even if that works, Hovind won't be likely to get a big check from the government as there is the matter of the multi-million dollar income tax deficiency that was confirmed by the Tax Court last year.
Still what I find encouraging about this is that Kent Hovind may have gotten that flawed as the system might be working with it conventionally works better than irrational defiance. If Kent Hovind works with conventional advisers, they will tell him to file an income tax return next year. Kent Hovind will likely never admit that he was wrong in the course he took with respect with taxes, but it is possible that he will move toward a more reasonable approach.
Anyway, I hope that they have a nice party today.
Travis Gettys (whose name I had misspelled) graciously tweeted me to let me know he had cited me and even made the cite a bit more prominent and as one of my commenters notes (and I should have noticed) this was not his first Hovind piece.
I had previously stated that USJF had been instrumental in getting Kent Hovind's structuring conviction reversed. It was his March 2015 contempt conviction that was reversed.