Idaho Legislature ousts Texas lawyer one day after his federal tax fraud conviction
John Green had said he wasn’t going to step down after being found guilty of hiding a friend’s riches in his lawyer-client account and paying his bills
Published; 16 Jan 2020
John Green was clear about his future after a federal jury in Dallas convicted him of tax fraud – he was not going to step down as an Idaho state lawmaker.
A day later, on Thursday, the Idaho House of Representatives voted unanimously to expel him.
Green, an attorney who is licensed to practice in Texas, was found guilty Wednesday of conspiring to defraud the U.S. by helping a friend and fellow tax protester, Thomas Selgas, hide his income from the IRS. Prosecutors said Green kept all of Selgas’ money in a special lawyer trust account intended to hold clients’ money for a short time. Green then paid Selgas’ credit card bills for years, evidence showed.
Selgas, 58, a former Garland resident, also was convicted of tax fraud, as well as tax evasion. His wife, Michelle Selgas, was acquitted.
The Associated Press reported that the House voted 65-0 to expel Green, a Republican, who has said he considers the IRS a “criminal organization.” Green also has compared the U.S. government to Nazi Germany.
State officials said it was the first ever expulsion from the Idaho Legislature, the AP reported.
Green, 60, a former Texas police officer, told the AP shortly after his conviction that he planned to be back in the Idaho Statehouse on Monday to represent his northern Idaho constituents. A federal magistrate on Wednesday denied the government’s motion to detain Green and Selgas, opting to release them until sentencing.
Green faces up to five years in prison.
“I’m going to finish my term, and we’ll see what happens,” Green told the AP.
He also told the wire service: “I’ve been an attorney for 30 years, and I know how these things go…a lot of innocent people get convicted.”
The AP on Thursday reported the following:
Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke made the motion to declare Green’s seat vacant, and it was seconded by Republican House Majority Leader Mike Moyle.
“The institution preceded us, and the institution will go long after we have left,” Bedke said after the vote, calling it a difficult day. “And on our watch, we wanted to do our constitutional and statutory duty, and I think we performed that today.”
Idaho’s Constitution doesn’t allow someone to hold any civil office if convicted of a felony, but two-thirds of House members must vote to expel.
A process to replace Green now begins that requires the involvement of Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
Prosecutors said Selgas “substantially undervalued” his income using the face value of gold rather than its market value as a precious metal. Courts have routinely ruled that such arguments in tax matters are frivolous.
Robert Kemins, a Justice Department trial attorney, told jurors that Selgas did not pay taxes on about $1 million in income he earned from a tech company called MyMail. The windfall stemmed from a payout from a 2005 patent infringement lawsuit involving MyMail, in which he was a partner, authorities say. The couple did not file a valid income tax return for the 2005 tax year, prosecutors said.
As part of his scheme, Selgas “started putting everything in gold,” Kemins said. And “every dime” he earned went into Green’s client trust account, he said. It wasn’t just gold coin sales. Soon, checks and wire transfers were being deposited into the account, adding up to more than $850,000 from 2007 to 2017, prosecutors told the jury.
Case Tracker : United States v. Selgas (3:18-cr-00356)
District Court, N.D. Texas, Judge Karen Gren Scholer & Magistrate Judge Rebecca Rutherford
”On June 3, 2019, the Government served the three Defendants with a letter (see attached Letter from Mara Strier of 06/03/2019) to advise that it intends to introduce Rule 404(b) evidence in two categories, both of which involve Green. The two categories are:
(1) “other clients” in Green’s trust account, which the Government claims will allegedly show a tendency to “hide his clients’ income and assets from the IRS”; and
(2) Green’s personal tax filing history, which the Government claims will show “[i]n particular, John Green failed to file his own personal income tax returns since 1998.”