Friday, January 19, 2007
In November 2006 Pensacola, Florida evangelist Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo, were found guilty on 58 federal counts of "willful failure" to payroll taxes, structuring bank withdrawals, and obstructing federal agents. On January 19, 2007 Hovind was given ten years in federal prison, ordered to pay $640,000 in owed funds to the Internal Revenue Service, pay prosecution's court costs of $7,078, and serve three years parole once released. Originally in November, Hovind was ordered to forfeit $430,400 and faced a maximum of 288 years in prison.
== Trial ==
Hovind, self-styled as "Dr. Dino" (whose Ph.D, from a non-accredited correspondence university, is in Christian education) believes in Biblical literalism claimed that he is not liable for taxes and his "ministry" does not have to "render unto Caesar" because, as he claimed, his workers are "missionaries" not "employees".
Hovind's tax troubles date back to at least 1996, when a judge at Hovind's bankruptcy trial wrote, Hovind "failed to acknowledge his obligations as a citizen and taxpayer of the United States, seeks to utilize this taxpayer supported court in order to thwart the lawful collection efforts of the Internal Revenue Service." The judge concluded, Hovind filed for bankruptcy in "bad faith," and lied about his possessions and income.
In the April 2004 raid on his "ministry" business records were taken, and according to an IRS agent "since 1997, Hovind has engaged in financial transactions indicating sources of income and has made deposits to bank accounts well in excess of $1 million per year during some of these years."
During a IRS raid in Spring 2006, the government confiscated records, $42,000 in cash was seized, and that day Kent Hovind withdrew $70,000 from the Creation Science Evangelism account, half in a check; the other in cash.
At the November trial, the young Earth creationist chose not to present a defense case. While the prosecution noted Hovind never filed income taxes with the government, others testified Hovind claimed he had "beat" the tax system, and employees said Hovind's evangelism was a business not a ministry.
Hovind was found guilty in November 2006 by twelve jurors at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola. The charges included twelve counts of willful failure to collect, account for, and pay over Federal income taxes and FICA taxes under 26 U.S.C. § 7202, forty-five counts of knowingly structuring transactions in Federally-insured financial institutions to evade the reporting requirements of 31 U.S.C. § 5313(a), in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5324, 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 31 C.F.R. sec. 103.11, and one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the administration of the internal revenue laws under 26 U.S.C. § 7212.
== Sentencing ==
The sentencing on Friday January 19, 2007 was a lengthy exchange that lasted 5 1/2 hours, and included statements from Hovind and his family members.
During the sentencing a recording of telephone conversations Hovind made from jail was played in court. In those conversations Hovind said the Internal Revenue Service, presiding judge and prosecutor broke the law by going after him, and there were things he could do "to make their lives miserable." In other recordings played Hovind was trying to hide assets from the government. One conversation with Eric Hovind, Kent Hovind's son, showed the two conspire to put assets in other peoples names and "loan" a motorhome with intent to have it returned. This was in violation of a court order, which allows property to be seized in restitution of owed money. In court, however, "My father is not a man who is in love with money. He's in love with God," Eric told the judge.
In another jailhouse phone conversation Hovind spoke with an unidentified man, and he agreed with Hovind on hiding 10% of Hovind's merchandise and master DVDs from the government. Hovind then proposed a new shipping location out of the reach of the government to continue to sell merchandise despite a court order to pay debt or surrender his assets.
Mark O'Brien reported, "Although phones include warnings that conversations are recorded, he didn't mince words as he ran up eight hours of calls per week."
On January 20, 2007 thirty minutes of phone calls prosecutors introduced "as evidence Hovind was attempting to conceal assets and had not accepted responsibility for his actions" were released online by the Pensacola News Journal.
During the sentencing Hovind proclaimed to the judge, "I am not a tax protester and never have been." He added, "The laws are just fine. It is just that some are enforcing laws that are not there."
Reporter O'Brien commented, "Hovind's talk sounds good to the courtroom full of sympathetic spectators," but it "isn't factual." Furthermore, O'Brien wrote "Today being Sunday, ask your minister or priest if he or she pays income taxes, just as the government requires," and "You would think that Hovind, who claims a doctorate, would have figured this out."
Hovind even had the audacity to compare his situation to Job and Jesus. Despite Christians comprising the majority of the American population, he said he was being persecuted. "If it’s just money the IRS wants, there are thousands of people out there who will help pay the money they want so I can go back out there and preach," Hovind said.
The judge informed Hovind that the trial "is not and has never been about religion." The judge further noted Hovind had miserably failed his fellow citizens and the men and women of the military -- who fight to defend his freedoms -- by refusing to pay taxes.
She recommended Kent Hovind be sent to the Saufley Field prison in Pensacola so he will be close to his family, but the final decision is up to the Bureau of Prisons.
After the judge sentenced Hovind to ten years, O'Brien reported, "even then he resisted reality" and told the judge 'I sure would like to go home'."
== Related news ==
"Evangelist Hovind found guilty for tax fraud" — Wikinews, November 4, 2006
"Evangelist Kent Hovind's tax trial begins" — Wikinews, October 21, 2006
"Kent Hovind faces a 58-count federal indictment" — Wikinews, July 21, 2006
== Sources ==
"Kent Hovind sentenced to ten years" — National Center for Science Education, January 24, 2007
Mark O'Brien. "Earth to 'Dr. Dino': Please pay your taxes and start facing reality" — Pensacola News Journal, January 21, 2007
"Kent Hovind jail calls" — Pensacola News Journal, January 20, 2007
Michael Stewart. "A decade for 'Dr. Dino': Kent Hovind gets 10 years for violating federal tax law" — Pensacola News Journal, January 20, 2007
"Florida evangelist setenced for tax fraud" — WALA-TV, January 20, 2007
Michael Stewart. "10 years for 'Dr. Dino'" — Pensacola News Journal, January 19, 2007
Jeff Barker. "Dino Preacher in Trouble Again" — WALA-TV, July 26, 2006
"Tax Evasion Charges Baseless Says Ministry Leader" — Christian News and Media Agency, July 21, 2006
Michael Stewart. "Park owner pleads not guilty to tax fraud: Evangelist says he's owned by God" — Pensacola News Journal, July 18, 2006
"Pensacola Evangelist Pleads Not Guilty to Tax Fraud Charges" — WTLV, July 18, 2006
Greg Martinez. "A Journey to Hovind's Dinosaur Adventure Land" — Skeptical Inquirer, November 2004
"Biblical theme park's finances investigated: Dr. Dino owes taxes dating back to 1997" — St. Petersburg Times, April 18, 2004
== External links ==
"United States of America v Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind" — United States Government, July 2006