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Press Release

Chico Florist Business Owner Found Guilty Of Retaliatory Tax Dodge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After a four-day trial, a federal jury found James O. Molen, 70, of Chico, guilty today on five counts — two counts of filing false liens against federal officers, two counts of contempt, and one count of interference with the administration of tax laws, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. The trial was held before United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley.

According to evidence presented at trial, Molen ran Touch of Class Florist in Chico, and in beginning in 2000, he stopped withholding and paying federal employment and unemployment taxes. After years of collection efforts by the IRS, Molen filed false liens in 2004 against people who had been involved in his case: two federal judges, the United States Attorney, two civil Department of Justice attorneys, an IRS revenue officer, and a witness. The liens claimed collateral of more than $93 billion. After a 2007 court order prohibited him from filing more false liens against federal officers, in 2010, Molen filed false liens against two revenue officers assigned to collect his taxes, claiming more than $199,000 in collateral. Molen ignored several court orders, sent a bogus tax payment to the IRS that he called an “International Bill of Exchange,” and sought to frustrate collections by placing his residence and bank accounts in trusts.

In 2003, Molen told the New York Times of the government, “"They can take a hike. … I do not intend to abide by any command of me, flesh and blood, to do anything.” This afternoon, Molen was immediately remanded upon conviction. Judge Nunley noted that Molen “thinks the law doesn’t apply to him” and has put “people through the ringer” by filing liens “retaliating against them.”

This case is the product of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service –Criminal Investigation and the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew D. Segal and Sherry D. Hartel Haus are prosecuting the case.

Molen is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nunley on August 21, 2014. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of filing false liens, and three years in prison and a $5,000 fine for impeding the due administration of the internal revenue laws. The charge of contempt holds no maximum penalty. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Updated April 8, 2015

Press Release Number: Docket #: 2:12-cr-252 TLN