Provo businessman Gene Erekson will serve six months in prison for evading taxes and using devious means to help others evade theirs, including the use of false security numbers and bank accounts.
U.S. District Judge Dee V. Benson sentenced Erekson, 60, to prison, and imposed a $5,000 fine because Erekson was dishonest, deceptive and unremorseful about his illegal activity, the judge said.Benson imposed a lighter sentence on tax protester Michael Jensen, 44, even though Jensen had been convicted of more crimes. The judge ordered four months of home confinement for Jensen, noting that Jensen "lived out in the middle of nowhere anyway," and 10 months of supervised release.
"That's an immense break for you, Mr. Jensen. You get to go home," Benson said. Jensen lives near Garrison, Millard County, 90 miles from the nearest store, his attorney said. Jensen and his wife educate their five children in their West Desert home.
Prosecutors accused Jensen and Erekson of concealing $676,000 in profits from Jensen's company, Sound Concepts, which sold cassette tapes of Mormon precepts.
A jury convicted Jensen of five counts of conspiracy and tax evasion and Erekson of two counts of conspiracy and using a false Social Security number.
Erekson's use of false documents prompted the harsher sentence, Benson said. "The difference between the two sentences in my mind is that Mr. Erekson clearly did things that were fundamentally improper that had nothing to do with taxes."
Benson ordered both men to promptly file tax returns for the years they didn't pay taxes and set up a payment schedule with the IRS to pay the back taxes. Prosecutors say those taxes amount to $59,000.
"Do the short form if you have to, but file it," he ordered Jensen. "You are as wrapped around the axle on this stuff as you can be. You ought to just cut yourself loose and start paying your taxes like any other ordinary citizen. Stop wasting your time."
Jensen says he didn't pay taxes for several years because the IRS didn't answer some of his questions about taxes. "I never, ever did anything wrong," Jensen told the judge. "I tried to question the government, it's true, but not to hurt anyone else."
Jensen's belief that he isn't subject to taxation "is bunk. It's hogwash," the judge said. "It doesn't make any sense. Tell that to several hundred million Americans who pay their taxes every year. I'm amazed that you are so mixed up on this. It's not that hard. Pay your taxes."
Jensen used Erekson's financial service to conceal his assets, prosecutors said. Erekson himself hasn't paid taxes since 1978, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Breinholt told Benson.
Erekson refused to speak before being sentenced because "it requires more emotional stability than he believes he can present," said Ed Guyon, Erekson's at-tor-ney.
Earlier this year, Benson sent another tax protester to jail for 30 days because the man refused to disclose his assets to the IRS. Benson told the man that when his own children misbehave, he sends them to their room until they agree to behave. The 30-day jail sentence was a similar reprimand, the judge said.