Doctor Deserves Vindication, Lawyer Truly Demands Accountability

Back in the 1990s, a nationwide tax-shelter and investment business named Anderson’s Ark Associates (AAA) caught the Internal Revenue Service’s attention. Claiming that it was nothing more than a tax-evasion scheme, the IRS indicted those involved — including investors who didn’t know it was a scam and who had lost their investments.

What transpired then has become the focus of several US~Observer investigative reports. With several successes at the hands of the winningest lawyer in America against the IRS, Houston-based Michael Minns, there is one final client who deserves vindication: Dr. Erik Dehlinger.

Dehlinger, a South Carolina emergency room surgeon, invested with AAA and lost. Dehlinger even appeared on the government’s victim list. Nonetheless, Dehlinger was charged with income tax evasion — during years when AAA’s main planner, Tara La Grand, actually produced the doctor’s tax returns. He signed those returns because, as Dehlinger said: “She said it was legal. I relied on her.”

AAA sought to protect itself and its planners and hired an attorney by the name of Scott Engelhard, who also ended up representing Dehlinger.

And that’s what this case is really about: conflict — conflict of interest, the conflict that comes when an attorney (Englehard) testifies against his own client (Dehlinger) and keeps off the stand the only people who could testify for the doctor. It’s the conflict that arises when your own attorney essentially puts you in prison.

But the greatest conflict comes when someone champions the cause of the innocent, stands up and says enough is enough — as is the case of Michael Minns’ fighting for Dehlinger and his right to have had a fair trial. It’s something Minns contends could not have happened with Englehard as the doctor’s attorney, especially because he also represented La Grand, who — even though she has been accused of being a perjurer — was not allowed to testify in the doctor’s case.

At the Oct. 30 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing, Minns stood in the middle of the conflict by responding to Judge Andre Davis’ question: “What lawyer, frankly, in his or her good mind would ever have called Ms. La Grand as a witness?”

Minns responded immediately, without hesitation: “Well, I definitely would have. And I did subpoena her. And I also put planners on during the trial in Seattle where we won acquittals in all counts. And I definitely would have put her on in this case because she said they all believed it [AAA] was legitimate.”

Minns went on to point out that there really was conflict all the way through this case, and that Dehlinger could not have received a fair trial.

Two of the three judges seemed critical of the argument for Dehlinger, but all three judges (Roger Gregory, Diana Gribbon Motz and Davis) seemed put off by the government argument.

According to Minns, the decision could go either way.

So on this Thanksgiving Day take a moment to offer a thought or prayer for the successful resolution in Dehlinger’s case, and then raise your glass to the likes of Minns, a lawyer who truly demands accountability.

–Ron Lee

Fractured, Rocked With Dismay, Irate: The State of My Union

Splintered, reeling in panic, angry: This is the state of my union, my America. Not the Washington, D.C., world of “reality,” where they pretend to know what the public needs and where their lack of knowledge of the needs of their constituency absolutely astounds me.

Splintered

Splintered because there are really two Americas. One wants nothing more than a government that leaves them alone. A government that works under the letter of Constitutional law, allowing for the states to make tough economic choices. A government that realizes its public isn’t a bunch of sheep that need to be led or children whose hands they have to hold. They are the responsible America who, in bad times, unite to get things done. They are the ones that you can rely on to search for you if you’re lost or to build you a new home should yours burn down. They are the true community, built from the neighborly way of old, living under the principle of “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” Bottom line, they are the doers. They are the ones who work long and hard. The ones who believe capitalism equals inventiveness, creativity and opportunity. They stand for the little guy, weak or injured. They show him how to get back on his own feet, and then they leave him to live his life as he wishes — as long as it doesn’t harm others. This America believes in true justice, based on factual guilt. They believe the pursuit of happiness is something to be worked for, not handed, and that life and liberty are the only things that are “given” and that both are worth dying for.

The other America is built upon entitlement. It wants to see more government regulations, because it doesn’t want the burden of being responsible for it. It wants the government to provide for it, feed it and heal it, because it believes that equality means provision. Its government is large and ominously similar to what we fought during the Cold War. This America’s public is the people who feel that they shouldn’t be responsible for anything and they lay in wait to sue you for everything you have — because they want it. They believe it’s OK to turn their backs on their community if it means their self-advancement. They are the ones who cry foul when their own personal choices bite them — like smokers who say it’s the fault of the manufacturers, or those who  blame guns for violence instead of the criminals who load the guns and pull the triggers. They see the world and life as something to control and manage, which furthers their need for more regulation. But they cry when that regulation infringes on their own pursuits. They believe in “equal” (special) rights for everything with the exception of what they do not like. Blame is their game. Selfishness is their method. And their government rules them accordingly by further restricting their freedoms, because it’s in their own best interest — and these people blindly believe it is. This America doesn’t believe anything is worth dying for, but that material pursuits, at times, are worth killing for.

Reeling In Panic

Reeling because my America is seeing the end of an economic era and the beginning of a tidal wave of financial woes never before witnessed in modern history. My America knows you can’t throw made-up money at any problem and think it will fix it. They know that when you print trillions of dollars and have nothing tangible backing that money, you have just added trillions of zeros to the worth of our currency, devaluing it completely. Let me put it a different way: If you have a city suffering from a drought and this city has a dam upstream, you don’t blow the dam! This will simply flood your city. And guess what? Soon, the water will recede (recession, get it?) and you won’t have a reserve of water to pull from in times of emergency any longer, and the drought will be worse than before. It works that way in economics, too. See, my America knows this. They also know that bailouts should never happen. It’s better to allow for free-market failure than government-controlled corporations. They are panicked because they see that their retirement is gone and that their children, and theirs, and theirs and theirs (and so on), will have to pay for this mess even though it’s just all made-up money. They fear government ownership and Federal control of their daily lives and see it happening with every new piece of legislation being drafted. They are frightened that the food supply is being targeted by both outside influences (China) and our own government, which is vying for more complete control. They are panicking because they are watching this great country erode into a culture of something-Americans — and not plain Americans. Unity is gone, and the true spirit of being multicultural under one flag is replaced by wanton disregard for the learning of what should be our common language. They are reeling in panic because their representatives have lost sight of what it means to represent. Instead, they present to the people and say: “See what I have done for you!” And all the while, they line their own pockets. This misrepresentation and constant lying has turned panic to anger.

Angry

Angered by people who swear an oath to the Constitution and then just trample all over it. They are angry that reason is lost and seemingly vacant in those who are supposed to know better. Angry because our liberties and freedoms are being stripped from us at an alarming rate. Angry that our borders and cities are being flooded by narco-illegals, and the solution provided to us thus far is to give all these law-breaking illegal aliens amnesty. We are told that to uphold law against an illegal is un-American (Nancy Pelosi)! They are angry because if they break the law they are punished, put into a justice system that is nothing more than a money-grubbing machine designed to further fleece the public. Truth is ignored as long as there is a suspect; guilt now presupposed.

With each new day there is something else to be angry for, some new legislation that further yokes us to a future of slavery — owned by the state, mind, body and spirit. Now, the few patriots that are left are being targeted, their peaceful movements labeled extremist and militant.

And They Are Wondering When Enough Is Enough

The American (Re)public can be pushed only so far before they rally and push back. Mark my words; it’s coming: the day of demanding accountability for actions against the republic. It will be ugly, and I wish with my whole heart that it could be avoided.

What is truly sad, however, is that we, the people, all let it get this bad in the first place. We gave up control to those who would lead us, not represent us, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

–Ron Lee

Writer’s note: This is something I wrote back in 2009. Sadly, it is still apropos. As before, please keep in mind, this is a rant. It is not a threat, nor do I have first-hand knowledge of any planned uprising.

It’s Always About Money, Not Healthcare/Gun Control

A good number of people are hailing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as a way to establish universal healthcare in the United States. Hogwash! These same people are holding up the new bill to tax handgun and ammo sales as a way to curb gun violence. Rubbish! The real reason for these “feel-good” laws has nothing to do with government’s compassion for its citizens. First, government doesn’t feel anything for its citizens. It just is. It does not have feelings. It is not alive. It is, however, comprised of living beings who have separated themselves from the rest of society by passing laws that give them luxury and advantage over the rest. And the one thing those people in government need to do is to find new ways to bring in revenue so their position is never threatened — especially those in high-up positions.

While the rest of us will likely just rely on Social Security, if it still exists, for our retirement, government has its own plan paid for by us. Look at the myriad local-level politicians whose retirement programs are bankrupting their communities. Can anyone say Detroit?

Oh, and government’s healthcare, that they don’t have to rely on Obamacare for, has always been paid for by us. They have always gotten the best care, and haven’t had to wait in eight-hour lines at local hospitals that treat their patients more like cattle than living, loving people.

But with more of us falling from the rolls of taxpayers to become tax-takers, government is in a twist to come up with more money to provide for itself. So here comes Obamacare and gun/ammo sales taxes.

Two of the biggest industries in this country are now about to be taxed: healthcare and guns. Isn’t that a little timely? And where does that money go? Where do any of our taxes go? Add up your taxes. Where is all of it? Even the poor, with their smartphones and iPads, pay taxes. Yes, homeless people are high-tech, too. If you have any type of service, television, phone, insurance, electricity, you pay taxes.

In fact, if you have a cellphone you pay a 3 percent Federal excise tax every time you pay your bill. If the average plan is (and I’m seriously low-balling this) $40, and there are 328 million cellphones (more than people) in use in the United States according to the CTIA-The Wireless Association, then we are looking at approximately $394 million in tax generated per month from this one excise tax. That’s $4.7 billion per year, just on our cellphones.

Don’t get me started about the 18.6 cents we pay to good old Uncle Sam for every gallon of gasoline we buy. How many gallons do you buy in a year? According to the U.S. Bureau of Transit Statistics, 251 million of us (cars in use) use 486 gallons each a year. Let’s do that math: 251 million times 486 gallons equals 121,986,000,000 gallons per year. At $0.186, that equals $22,689,396,000 per year. Yep, almost $23 billion in tax revenue just from our driving around.

But nonetheless, we need more taxes to fund Big Brother’s quest to stay on top and in luxury. So we are right back to two of the largest industries now being eyed.

If the fallout from Obamacare continues, there won’t be many businesses paying for their employees’ healthcare, so it will fall to the individual to provide his own. But with rates being so high, the average citizen can’t afford it. That’s OK, says Uncle Sam, you can just pay a fine — which will be taken from the taxes you usually get back at the end of the year. Now, if just 10 million people pay the 1 percent income fine and they earn an average of $30,000 per year, the government has just collected $3 billion in added taxes. What happens to this money? Another vacation? Another round or two of golf with Tiger?

Now, what about guns? According to NCIS records, there were 16,808,538 background checks for weapons purchases in 2012. With approximately half of all these gun sales comprised of handgun purchases, there were roughly 8.4 million handguns sold in 2012. With an average sticker price of — let’s be conservative here — $400, each gun would net the government $80. That’s $672 million on gun sales. But that’s nothing compared to the money they’ll generate off a 50 percent ammo tax. Currently, the government collects a meager 11 percent on ammunition — in 2009 that brought in $172 million in revenue. At 50 percent, it would be about $731 million. Not too shabby!

Let’s face it, the government is not out to help us through the taxes, fines, assessments and fees it places on us. It is simply feeding itself, ensuring the longevity and security, if not luxury, of the people who elevate themselves above the majority.

I know many people believe that everything can change at the next election. I believe government — no matter who is in office — will continue to leech off us until it can suck no more, and then we’ll be in serious trouble.

Ron Lee

Judge: Government Fails To Prove Tax Due

“The Court has carefully considered the filings of the parties as well as today’s hearing and the court finds for purposes of sentencing these defendants that the Government has failed to carry its burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, much less by clear and convincing evidence, that the tax loss exceeds zero.” – The Honorable James A. Teilborg, judge

PHOENIX — It is unusual for a reporter to start a story simply quoting the trial court verbatim, but the ruling is the story. This was the sentencing in U.S. v. Kerr and Quiel following a six-week long trial in Phoenix, where the defendants were charged with income tax crimes and were facing 35 years in prison for international tax conspiracies. The story ends with a finding that the government did not prove beyond a preponderance that a tax debt was due and owing.

Neither the defense, represented by two of America’s top law firms, Mike Quiel by the Minns Firm and Steve Kerr by Kimerer and Derrick, nor the government put their experts on the stand until the trial was over: at sentencing.

The two defendants were charged with conspiring with each other and their lawyer, Chris Rusch, who turned on them, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and testified against them. They were also indicted on two counts of failing to file a form, TDF 90-22.1, which had to do with foreign bank accounts. Finally, they were charged with filing two incorrect tax returns, which totaled five counts against them.

Quiel, represented by the Minns Firm, including lawyers Michael Minns and Ashley Arnett, was found not guilty of conspiracy, and the charges were dismissed on both foreign bank account indictments; but he was found guilty on the two incorrectly prepared tax returns.

Kerr, represented by Kimerer and Derrick, including Michael Kimerer and Rhonda Neff, was also found not guilty of conspiracy but guilty on the other four counts.

The entire case though, was primarily based on the word of their former lawyer, Rusch, whose website was still up as of the date this article was written and who, although suspended by the California State bar after Minns filed a grievance against him, still lectured on tax law in San Antonio as recently as September.

Theoretically, because of the conspiracy, Rusch was allowed to testify against his own clients, violating sacred attorney-client privilege about the Swiss accounts he set up. Further, he received immunity for other crimes he committed, which ranged from felonies involving these very accounts, to even notary fraud.

So how is this possible? Rusch swore they were all guilty of conspiring, yet his clients were found not guilty of conspiracy. So should he have been allowed to testify against them at all?

Rusch advertises as an expert in criminal tax work but fails to tell his prospective clients his only tax trial was as a criminal defendant — and his only time in front of a criminal tax jury was to snitch on his own clients for taking his advice.

Stay tuned. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will have to decide if a client can go to jail based on testimony from his own lawyer who made a deal with the government to save himself.

With two tax returns admittedly wrong (the government claims intentionally; the defense says they relied on attorney Rusch), the sentencing came down to one big question: Do they owe taxes and, if so, how much?

The large tax claimed by the government would require a sentencing of at least 51 months, but as much as 72 months — far less than the 35 years they started with, but still a huge hardship to the accused and their families.

The government’s argument rested on the testimony of Internal Revenue Service agent Deborah Saparata, who claimed taxes were owed in the millions of dollars.

Under Minns’ cross-examination, Saparata admitted she was not a certified public accountant, had never taken a test for any tax license, was not qualified to do banking taxation (this case dealt with Swiss banks), had not seen the stock certificate the IRS case was based on, and had not given credit for money the lawyer, Rusch, had stolen.

Following her, Kimerer put on the stand Sheri Betzer, a licensed and qualified CPA, who testified that Kerr owed no taxes. Minns then put on the stand Ron Braver, also a licensed and qualified CPA with a master’s degree in tax, who testified Quiel owed no taxes. Minns also showed the court the government’s own computer record, which showed Quiel owed no taxes.

Prosecutor Monica B. Edelstein cross-examined Braver.

Prosecutor Timothy Stockwell cross-examined Betzer.

While this reporter was not surprised by the only reasonable decision, that the government had not proven either defendant owed a tax, Edelstein and Stockwell appeared surprised. A short two weeks later, they served notice that the government was appealing the sentence.

Notice is hereby given that the United States of America appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit the sentence imposed in the court’s judgment entered on September 25, 2013.

— Submitted by John Leonardo, U.S. Attorney Arizona, Timothy Stockwell and Monica B. Edelstein

The next day, Oct. 10, they filed a joint motion with the crooked lawyer, Rusch, to postpone sentencing him for the fourth time. Why is Rusch permitted to continue to sell his services as a confessed criminal? Is the government involved in some sort of conspiracy with Rusch? We notice Rusch does not offer his “services” to “testify” against his own clients.

The court found against the defendants in favor of the government on only one key issue, that the Swiss accounts and multiple corporations were sophisticated.

The court’s findings lowered the possible sentence from 35 years to a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of 16 months.

The court ordered the minimum 10 months but also ordered no imprisonment until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the case.

Presumably, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will decide if this lawyer, Rusch, had the right to testify against his clients and if the government had the right to use his testimony against his own clients for an immunity deal. If a crooked lawyer can trade his clients for his own personal deal with the government, the U.S. Constitution is in jeopardy. The US~Observer can think of no better team to defend the Constitutional right to counsel than the Minns Firm and Kimerer and Derrick.

This reporter also hopes the appellate court will examine the reasonableness of sending someone to trial in a tax case when the citizen likely does not owe a tax.

For now, both of the accused remain free pending this important appeal.

Rusch continues, without government interference, to solicit business as a tax attorney and is reportedly set to lecture in November in Panama for the organization known as Live and Invest Overseas. If this is taking place with the permission of the Federal government, is the government using this as an opportunity to raid the clients of Rusch and the clients of Live and Invest Overseas, perhaps with Rusch working with them on the inside? Do the owners of Live and Invest Overseas know they are sponsoring a convicted felon who testified under oath against his own clients? Do the people meeting with them in Panama next month know they are being taught taxation by an IRS snitch?

Time will tell.

Ron Lee