Tax Protestor Sentenced in Federal Court
EUGENE, Ore. – Randall Blair Johnson, 54, of Sisters, Oregon, was sentenced yesterday to 41 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $260,536 in restitution to the IRS and a $50,000 fine after a jury found him guilty of three counts of income tax evasion, three counts of willful failure to file tax returns and one count of witness tampering.
“People who flout the tax laws increase the burden on law-abiding citizens,” stated U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. “In this case, the defendant mouthed protest rhetoric, but his real motivation was greed. His sentence shows what happens when someone tries to defy the tax code.”
According to the indictment, Johnson was a realtor and half owner of TR Hunter Real Estate, a real estate company in Florence, Oregon. Johnson’s primary sources of income were from sales of real estate, commissions and, in 2005, the sale of TR Hunter Real Estate. The indictment alleged that Johnson had a history of timely filing income tax returns but filed no returns for 2002 through 2005, despite being required by law to do so.
The evidence at the trial last June proved that Johnson filed federal income tax returns for nearly thirty years. Then, in 2002, he fired his C.P.A., stopped filing returns, stopped paying income tax, and started sending frivolous tax protestor materials to the IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue.
Johnson’s income more than quadrupled from 2002 to 2005 but he paid no income tax, claiming to revenue officials that the tax laws did not apply to him. An IRS revenue agent testified that Johnson had over $260,000 in taxes due and owing for that four-year period. Despite not filing his own income tax returns, Johnson paid property taxes, filed corporate tax returns for TR Hunter Real Estate, and had delinquent income tax returns prepared for his wife.
Chief United States District Judge Ann Aiken increased Johnson’s sentence based on his attempt to influence grand jury testimony. In April of 2009, Johnson provided his brother-in-law and former business partner a letter instructing him to provide false answers to the prosecutor’s questions in the grand jury. Johnson’s attempt to corruptly influence grand jury testimony was the basis of his conviction for witness tampering.
Judge Aiken further increased Johnson’s sentence after finding that he used sophisticated means to conceal income and assets from the IRS. In addition to filing tax protestor materials with the IRS, Johnson sold real estate outside of escrow, transferred property into the names of family members and endorsed third party checks instead of cashing them or depositing them into his bank account. When he sold his interest in TR Hunter Real Estate to his partner in 2005, he insisted the sale not go through escrow, knowing that escrow would report the sale to the IRS.
Judge Aiken ordered Johnson to report to the U.S. Marshals on April 6, 2013 to begin serving his prison sentence.
This investigation was conducted by agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William “Bud” Fitzgerald and Scott Bradford.