Tax activist and conservative initiative sponsor Bill Sizemore swore all along he would never, ever admit to the criminal tax evasion that he was charged with by the state of Oregon back in 2009. He'd paid his taxes, Sizemore said. He'd just never filed his returns. And just last week, Sizemore told WW he was going to fight the charges to the end.
Well, this was Sizemore after all, who is nothing if not unreliable and pragmatic.
Sizemore, 60, pleaded guilty Thursday to three felony counts of personal tax evasion only few days before he was scheduled to stand trial in Marion County Circuit Court. His wife, Cindy, had also been charged, but she had already pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts in October 2010 and was given 18 months' probation.
Sizemore was sentenced to 30 days in jail and has to abide by a series of conditions (see below). He had faced up to five years in prison for each count.
Sizemore, who once commanded meaningful power in Oregon politics, was the bane of public employee unions. And the unions in the end brought him down. Their civil suits against Sizemore for his tactics in running initiative campaigns forced him to admit under oath in 2008 that he had not filed his personal income tax returns.
"Everybody has to pay their taxes," said a written statement from Attorney General Kroger, whose office won the conviction against Sizemore. "There are no exceptions."
Sizemore argued he was targeted for political reasons by Kroger, whose 2008 campaign for AG was largely bankrolled by the very public employee unions who had gone after him in court. That argument didn't fly with a judge.
Here's the Oregon Department of Justice press release announcing the plea deal.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN KROGER ANNOUNCES PLEA AND SENTENCING IN SIZEMORE CASE
Bill Sizemore pleads guilty to three felony counts of Oregon Personal Income Tax Evasion
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger today announced the guilty plea and sentencing of Bill Sizemore on felony tax evasion charges. Sizemore was indicted by a grand jury in October of 2009 for failing to file state income tax returns for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
"Everybody has to pay their taxes," said Attorney General Kroger. "There are no exceptions."
William Lee Sizemore (DOB: 6/2/51) pleaded guilty this afternoon before Judge Claudia Burton in Marion County Circuit Court to three counts of Oregon Personal Income Tax Evasion, a Class C Felony. Sizemore received a presumptive sentence under Oregon Sentencing Guidelines of 36 months of supervised probation. As part of his probation, Sizemore must immediately serve 30 days in Marion County Jail and will not be eligible for early release.
Under a plea agreement, Sizemore must also adhere to a number of additional probationary terms. Specifically, he must:
· Complete 100 hours of community service following his release from jail;
· Repay the state for his court-appointed attorney’s fees;
· Adhere to a battery of conditions that mandate expedient compliance and candor with the Oregon Department of Revenue;
· Within 120 days, file tax returns for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008;
· File all future income tax returns on time;
· Comply with all laws, including tax laws; and
· Complete his three-year probationary term without any violations, in which case the Department of Justice will make a good faith consideration as to whether his convictions should be converted to misdemeanors. This is a routine provision in plea agreements offered to all eligible defendants.
Evidence in support of the charges against Bill Sizemore was uncovered during a civil lawsuit against several entities that he controlled. That lawsuit established that Sizemore set up a sham charity to hide political contributions to various ballot measure campaigns with which he was associated. As a result of that case, Sizemore was banned from managing any charity pursuant to a 2009 court order.
The Oregon Department of Justice's Charitable Activities Section, which handled the civil lawsuit, subsequently referred the criminal charges to the Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Division for further investigation.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Andrew Campbell prosecuted the case for the Oregon Department of Justice.
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.