Wesley Snipes' tax adviser found guilty ... again
Eddie Ray Kahn, who advised the actor on financial matters, was found guilty last Wednesday of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit mail fraud. Kahn, the founder of Guiding Light of God Ministries and American Rights Litigators, was indicted in 2006 on charges related to promoting tax evasion schemes. He fled to Panama, where he was subsequently detained and returned to his home in Florida (the U.S. has an extradition treaty with Panama).
Kahn's most (in)famous client, actor Wesley Snipes, was previously indicted for allegedly claiming more than $12 million in fraudulent refunds and not filing any tax returns for several years. He was found guilty of failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004 and was sentenced to the maximum three years in federal prison. Snipes is currently out on bail, pending an appeal in his case.
Snipes had sought to avoid taxes by, among other things, using three bogus checks to pay $14 million in taxes and filing an amended tax return altered to state that he filed under "no" penalty of perjury. He later claimed to be a tax denier, meaning that he was not subject to tax based on a number of what have been found to be frivolous arguments. Snipes was said to have joined the movement in 1999 when he realized that he owed more than $2 million in federal income taxes. He subsequently sought out Eddie Kahn, who had previously served jail time in the 1980s for tax evasion, to do a seminar in his home. After that seminar (and paying Kahn a fee), Snipes refused to pay any more taxes to the U.S. government.
Kahn continued his scheme for several years, despite being sued by the IRS for back taxes, investigated by the Florida bar for practicing law without a license and being served with an injunction to stop selling his "tax denier" schemes. Snipes was allegedly a participant in Kahn's scheme during this trial.
It came as no surprise, then, that the men were eventually put on trial together. Snipes was convicted of failure to file tax returns while Kahn and his co-defendant, Douglas P. Rosile, were convicted by the same jury of tax fraud and conspiracy. Kahn was sentenced to 10 years in prison and currently calls the La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution at Anthony, Texas, his home.
Kahn was initially slated for release in 2015, but his latest guilty verdict means he'll stay in jail a little longer. The Justice Department and IRS produced evidence at trial linking Kahn along with Stephen C. Hunter, Danny True and Allan J. Tanguay, all of Florida, to bogus instruments purporting to be drawn on the U.S. Treasury. After a relatively short trial (just 18 days), all four men were found guilty.
The Justice Department has won a number of these high-level cases: Kahn was said to have involved up to 4,000 potential taxpayers (including Snipes) in his tax evasion schemes. The publicity surrounding these trials will, the Justice Department hopes, put taxpayers on notice. "Convictions, like the one returned against these defendants today, send a loud and clear message that illegal tax defiers will be investigated, prosecuted, and subjected to the full punishment of the law for their actions," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department Tax Division.