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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chico Florist Shop Owner Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison For Tax Dodge And Retaliating Against Federal Officers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — United States District Judge Troy L. Nunley sentenced James O. Molen, 70, of Chico, today to three years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, for dodging taxes, defying court orders, and retaliating against federal officials involved in his case, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

On May 27, 2014, after a four-day trial, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict. According to evidence presented at trial, Molen ran Touch of Class Florist in Chico, and 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.

At sentencing, Judge Nunley called the filing of retaliatory false liens against federal employees “absolutely absurd.” He referred to Molen’s many frivolous filings and statements about the authority of the federal courts concluding, “The defendant has said things that are simply stupid.” Judge Nunley further noted that in light of Molen’s deteriorating health, “Thirty-six months is not a drop in the bucket. That is a significant sentence.”

“Mr. Molen thought he could evade the federal tax laws that apply to every American by objecting to federal jurisdiction, ignoring his obligations, and attempting to harass and intimidate federal officials,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner. “The sentence imposed today reflects the fact that such tactics are both ineffective and criminal.”

This case was 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 prosecuted the case.

Press Release Number: 
Docket #: 2:12-cr-252 TLN
Updated April 8, 2015