WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Montgomery, Ala., found James Timothy Turner, also known as Tim Turner, guilty late Friday of conspiracy to defraud the United States, attempting to pay taxes with fictitious financial instruments, attempting to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), failing to file a 2009 federal income tax return and falsely testifying under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, the Justice Department, the IRS and the FBI announced today.
Based on the evidence introduced at trial and court filings, Turner, the self-proclaimed "president" of the so-called sovereign citizen group "Republic for the United States of America" (RuSA), traveled the country in 2008 and 2009 conducting seminars teaching attendees how to defraud the IRS by preparing and submitting fictitious "bonds" to the United States government in payment of federal taxes. Although the evidence at trial revealed the bonds are fictitious and worthless, witnesses testified that Turner used special paper, financial terminology and elaborate borders in an effort to make them look "real" and more likely to succeed in defrauding the recipient. Turner was convicted of sending a $300 million "bond" in his own name and of aiding and abetting others in sending fifteen other “bonds” to the Treasury Department to pay taxes and other debts.
The evidence at trial also established that Turner taught people how to file retaliatory liens against government officials who interfered with the processing of fictitious "bonds." Turner filed a purported $17.6 billion maritime lien in Montgomery County, Ala., Probate Court against another individual. Finally, evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the FBI began an investigation after Turner and three other individuals sent demands to all 50 governors in the United States in March 2010 ordering each governor to resign within three days or be "removed."
"The jury's verdict in this case sends a message that defrauding the government and others through the use of bogus financial documents will not be tolerated," said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division Kathryn Keneally. "Disagreement with the law is no excuse for the real harm caused by these self-interested tax defiers."
"These sovereign citizen groups use these retaliatory tax liens and fraudulent tax schemes as weapons against the United States and its citizens," stated Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart. "It is only the hard work of law enforcement that can stop these criminals from using these financial weapons. I would like to thank the law enforcement officers who worked vigilantly on this case to bring this criminal to justice."
"Those who create elaborate schemes and fraudulent tax elimination tactics run a high risk of prosecution," stated Richard Weber, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Mr. Turner's attempts to thwart the IRS, as well as the assistance and training he provided to others, was not tax planning, it was criminal activity. IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to vigorously pursuing those who promote illegal financial transactions designed to evade the payment of taxes. For those who would consider similar behavior, let this case be a strong warning that there is no secret formula for evading the payment of taxes and no one is above the law."
Turner remains in federal custody pending sentencing. Turner faces a potential maximum prison term of 164 years, a maximum potential fine of $2,350,000 and mandatory restitution.
"The prosecution of individuals who intentionally impede the IRS by submitting fictitious and frivolous documents, in an attempt to avoid paying federal taxes, is a vital element in maintaining public confidence in our tax system," stated Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. "Hopefully the verdict will send a message to other individuals like Turner, that this conduct will not be tolerated."
"This joint investigation exemplifies the government's commitment to investigate and prosecute those, who through tax schemes, attempt to cheat and steal from the government," stated Stephen Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Mobile Division.
This case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Tax Division Trial Attorney Justin Gelfand and Middle District of Alabama Assistant U.S. Attorney Gray Borden.