A federal jury took less than an hour Wednesday to convict a former Henderson firefighter on five counts of trying to evade more than $130,000 in taxes between 2004 and 2008.
Dwight C. Jackson, 53, also was convicted of making fraudulent claims on his 2009 tax return. Prosecutors had alleged that he falsely stated he had no income that year though records showed the city of Henderson had paid him $247,492.
In all, prosecutors alleged during the three-day trial that Jackson owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $192,000 in taxes. He was paid nearly $800,000 as a Henderson firefighter between 2004 and 2009.
Jackson, who retired in 2009 after 23 years on the job, showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Senior U.S. District Judge Philip Pro set a Jan. 28 sentencing for the former firefighter, who is free on his own recognizance. He faces up to 30 years in prison and fines as high as $1.5 million.
Afterward, Jackson declined comment.
Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden and Paul Camacho, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigation in Las Vegas, both praised the verdict.
“Knowingly cheating and not paying your taxes is a crime and will likely result in federal criminal charges” Bogden said. “Unless you like the prospect of spending time in federal prison, it is best to avoid cheating on your taxes.”
Camacho added: “As government employees we are profoundly aware that our wages come through taxes and we all have a duty to pay our fair share. Temerity is the word that comes to mind when I think about Mr. Jackson’s actions.”
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Damm said, “Unfortunately, somewhere along the road Mr. Jackson took a wrong turn.”
Damm told the jury that Jackson went on a six-year “quest to defraud” the IRS. He grossly underestimated his wages and submitted false exemptions claiming he didn’t have to pay federal taxes on his firefighter’s salary, Damm said.
Jackson carried out the scheme with the help of James A. Mattatall, a Southern California man adept at disrupting the administration of the tax laws, Damm said. The two men met in Las Vegas at a gathering of members of the anti-government “sovereign citizens” movement, Damm said.
Thousands of Americans in the movement across the country have declared themselves above the government’s jurisdiction and not obligated to pay taxes. Federal authorities have prosecuted several sovereign citizen members and leaders in Las Vegas in the past several years.
The government sued Mattatall in Los Angeles federal court in 2003 and later obtained an order from a judge barring him from advising people on how to file phony tax exemptions.
Jackson did not testify during the trial in his own defense and did not call any witnesses.
In closing arguments, his lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Richard Boulware, told the jury the criminal case was the result of a disagreement over the tax laws between Jackson and the Internal Revenue Service. Boulware described Jackson as a “man of strong beliefs” who was being prosecuted because he had the “audacity” to challenge the federal tax collectors.
But Damm responded, “These weren’t his good-faith beliefs. These were his attempts to evade taxes.”
Jackson paid Mattatall to help him file frivolous tax exemptions with the IRS, Damm said.
“Mr. Jackson made bad choices, and when people make bad choices, there are inevitably consequences,” the prosecutor said.
Contact reporter Jeff German at
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