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Tax activist fights contempt charges

By ADRIENNE PACKER

Anti-income tax proponent Irwin Schiff’s behavior during his federal trial three years ago could earn the 80-year-old felon an additional month in prison.

U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson slapped Schiff with 15 counts of contempt of court last month and scheduled a hearing June 24.

Schiff, who was found guilty of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, tax evasion and filing false returns, was sentenced in 2006. He is scheduled to be released in October 2016. Schiff represented himself during the trial in Dawson’s courtroom.

In his orders, Dawson claims Schiff repeatedly disrupted and delayed the 2005 trial proceedings.

Dawson said that on several occasions Schiff:

• Offered leading questions intended to make the witness speculate what Schiff was thinking.

• Asked questions to elicit irrelevant testimony.

• Offered testimony while he was questioning witnesses and not under oath.

Schiff “did argue with the Court over its ruling and did engage in theatrics and did describe the actions of the Court as ‘silly’ after numerous warnings to desist,” Dawson wrote in his order.

On Friday, Schiff, who is incarcerated in Terre Haute, Ind., asked for additional time to prepare for the hearing. In his response, Schiff requested a full transcript of the trial and denied any wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior on his part.

“For Schiff to establish the mischaracterization and unwarranted nature of the charges at issue, Schiff would need trial transcript pages showing the exact circumstances out of which the contempt charge emerged,” Schiff wrote.

“Schiff, at this point, is totally at a loss to understand whether or not this is an adversarial proceeding, and, if so, who is his adversary?” he wrote.

During the trial, Schiff and his cohorts took to the radio airwaves to stir up other anti-tax proponents.

Dawson said this month that spectators at the trial would shout “objection” in the middle of proceedings, acid was poured on the vehicles of IRS agents, and court employees’ tires were punctured.

Dawson was in fear of his life. For months a U.S. Marshal drove him and his wife around town and even on a trip to the mountains.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacke@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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