FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2001
COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENT INDICTED AND ARRESTED FOR 1997 ARSON OF INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE OFFICE
COLORADO SPRINGS – John W. Suthers, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, Terry Peacock, Special Agent In Charge of the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General for Tax Administration, Rich Marianos, Resident Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, and Mark Mershon, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Rocky Mountain Division today announced the arrests of JAMES FLOYD CLEAVER of Colorado Springs, Colorado, THOMAS DOWELL of Dallas, Texas and JACK DOWELL of Pensacola, Florida, for the arson fire that destroyed the Internal Revenue Service office in Colorado Springs on May 3, 1997.
On October 31, 2001, a federal grand jury in Denver returned a sealed indictment charging the three with the destruction of government property and forcible interference with Internal Revenue Service employees and administration. CLEAVER was also charged with subornation of perjury and witness tampering. All three were arrested this morning without incident by Special Agents of the ATF, FBI and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
According to the indictment, CLEAVER, THOMAS DOWELL, and JACK DOWELLmaliciously started a fire which damaged a building occupied by the Internal Revenue Service, located at 2020 North Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs. The fire totally destroyed the office, including tax payer files and records as well as government equipment. The indictment also states that as a direct result of the arson, a Colorado Springs fireman was injured while performing his duties. The arson also impeded IRS employees from doing their jobs.
CLEAVERis also accused of suborning perjury by asking a witness to lie to a federal grand jury during testimony given in 1997. Later, CLEAVER threatened that same witness, attempting to prevent him from communicating with law enforcement officers. As a result of the threats, CLEAVER was charged with witness tampering.
“The government takes very seriously any act that destroys federal facilities in an attempt to prohibit workers from performing their official duties,” United States Attorney John Suthers said. “Those who commit crimes of this nature will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr. Suthers said.
“I am pleased with the tenacity of the law enforcement agents and prosecutors involved in this investigation,” said IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti. “It is important that those responsible for this crime are brought to justice.”
David C. Williams, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, also commended the investigators and promised pursuit of others who have threatened IRS employees. “Those who use or threaten to use violence against the IRS will be met with rigorous investigation and federal prosecution,” said Mr. Williams. “The IRS must carry out its duties of serving the American public fairly and without intimidation.”
Rich Marianos, Regional Special Agent in Charge of the Colorado Springs Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms said “I want to recognize the hard work of the agents who investigated this case. Thanks to an aggressive investigation we were able to solve this crime.”
If convicted CLEAVER, THOMAS DOWELL, and JACK DOWELLface 7 to 40 years in federal prison for the destruction of government property by means of fire. They also face up to three years for interference with IRS employees. CLEAVER also faces up to 5 years in prison for subornation of perjury and up to 10 years in prison for witness tampering. All three face fines of not more than $250,000 for each count.
These charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.