Saturday, January 3, 2009
Kent Hovind‘s Appeal for his and his wife, Jo’s, felony convictions was recently denied by Eleventh Circuit Court. The court found that the Hovinds’ appeal was “without merit.” Kent and Jo were convicted of 58 and 44 tax-related felonies respectively, obstruction and intimidation of federal officers, willful failure to collect and pay taxes, and structuring to avoid bank reporting requirements. Kent is a Pensacola young Earth creationist/Evangelist and operator of Dinosaur Adventure Land whose speaking engagements and merchandise earned US$5 million from 1999 to March 2004.
The Appeal looked at several issues and concluded that there was enough evidence to convict the Hovinds and that the government did not err. Among other issues, it ruled “Sufficient evidence establishes that Kent failed to collect or pay withholding taxes.” It cited that “Employees of Evangelism Enterprises, peers, and legal counsel testified that Kent disputed the authority of the Internal Revenue Service based on the separation of the church and state, debated the interpretation and application of the withholding requirements, and intentionally characterized Evangelism Enterprises as a ‘church’ and his employees as ‘missionaries’ to avoid tax obligations.”
The Appeals court also ruled that the Hovinds “challenge the validity of their convictions on the ground that the statute does not penalize transactions below $10,000,” but the court ruled “this interpretation does not comport with the language of the statute.” Furthermore, it found “that Kent intended to impede agents of the Revenue Service (IRS) in their efforts to investigate and prosecute Kent’s violations of the tax laws” by “fil[ing] complaints and sued agents of the Internal Revenue Service and instituted legal proceedings to circumvent the lawful seizure of his assets.” Lastly, it affirmed the forfeiture of substitute property when the original property was transferred or deposited with a third party.
On January 19, 2007 Kent was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay US$640,000 in owed funds to the IRS, pay prosecution’s court costs of $7,078, and serve three years parole once released. Whereas, in June 2007 Jo was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, but the judge released her pending appeal.