Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tenth Affirms Tax Offense Convictions; Sentence Reversed Based on Court's Clearly Erroneous Finding

U.S. v. Melot, 2013 WL 5684028 (10/21/13) (NM) - Tenth Circuit affirms convictions for tax offenses and reverses defendant's sentence--on cross-appeal by the government--because the district court improperly granted a two-level reduction for acceptance.

There was overwhelming evidence of the element of willfulness; the jury could readily infer from defendant's conduct that he knew of his obligation to file tax returns and pay taxes.

Restitution was properly calculated to include losses derived from Texas fuel excise taxes defendant failed to pay and the amount of agricultural subsidies he got from the USDA on the basis of misrepresentations.

The sentence was reversed. The U.S.S.G. ยง 3E1.1 decrease was based on a clearly erroneous finding by the district court, given Mr. Melot's persistent denial that he willfully engaged in criminal conduct and his failure to voluntarily pay restitution.