WASHINGTON – Following three and a half days of trial and 19 minutes of deliberations, a Gulfport, Miss., federal jury yesterday convicted Paul Richard Arceneaux, a resident of Church Point, La., of tax crimes, the Justice Department announced. Arceneaux, who owned and operated Speedy Cash Inc. in Gulfport, was convicted of all counts of the indictment charging him with corruptly interfering with the Internal Revenue laws and failing to file his income tax returns for 2003 and 2004.
U.S. District Judge Walter J. Gex III, scheduled sentencing for July 15, 2009. Arceneaux faces potential maximum sentences totaling five years’ in prison followed by one year of supervised release, $450,000 in criminal fines and costs of prosecution.
According to the indictment, Arceneaux, formerly of Long Beach, Miss., filed fictitious liens for millions of dollars against the Chancery Clerk for Harrison County, an employee of the Chancery Clerk’s office and an employee of the IRS. Arceneaux also filed frivolous lawsuits against the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service and an IRS employee, and Arceneaux filed false tax returns or amended tax returns for tax years 1998 through 2002 on which he falsely claimed he earned no income.
On July 12, 2004, U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. dismissed Arceneaux’s frivolous lawsuits. In those lawsuits, Arceneaux had asserted that he was a citizen of the state of Mississippi, not the United States, and therefore the Internal Revenue code did not apply to him. Judge Guirola wrote that Arceneaux’s arguments that he is not subject to this nation’s federal tax laws "have been considered and uniformly rejected by the courts." In this criminal trial, Arceneaux testified that he relied upon the advice of a number of individuals, including Irwin Schiff, who is now serving time in prison for tax crimes.
"Honest, hard-working taxpayers have a right to expect that all will pay their fair share of taxes. Yesterday’s verdicts make it crystal clear that those thinking about avoiding their federal tax obligations should think twice," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. "Together, the Justice Department and the I.R.S. are aggressively enforcing the federal tax laws."
"We should not forget that the ultimate victim of tax fraud is the honest taxpayer," said Eileen C. Mayer, Chief, Criminal Investigation, Internal Revenue Service. "The jury and the courts have once again held that there are no legal grounds for failure to file or pay your taxes."
Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco thanked Tax Division attorney Jed Silversmith and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, who prosecuted the case. He also thanked the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation agents in the Gulfport office, who investigated the case.
Additional information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax.