A week after he announced
he would seek the 2010 GOP gubernatiorial nomination, Bill Sizemore was indicted today on charges that he failed to file income tax returns. Here are the particulars from Attorney General John Kroger's office:
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN KROGER ANNOUNCES TAX EVASION PROSECUTION
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger today announced that the Oregon Department of Justice has filed tax evasion charges against Bill and Cindy Sizemore.
The Sizemores were each indicted by a grand jury on three counts of Oregon Personal Income Tax Evasion. The indictment alleges that Bill and Cindy Sizemore each failed to file tax returns for the tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The indictments were issued by the grand jury on October 27, but not unsealed until after the state tax amnesty period ended Nov. 19. Late last week, Oregon Department of Revenue officials confirmed that the Sizemores did not seek to take advantage of the tax amnesty, which was an opportunity for taxpayers to file or amend tax returns in exchange for a waiver of civil penalties and partial interest.
This is the second tax evasion case filed by the Oregon Department of Justice since the end of the amnesty period. On Nov. 20, two counts of Oregon Personal Income Tax Evasion and two counts of Unlawful Manufacture and Delivery of Marijuana were filed against Michael Troy Dyer of West Salem.
All criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Evidence in support of the charges against Bill and Cindy Sizemore was uncovered during a civil lawsuit against entities controlled by Bill Sizemore. That lawsuit established that Bill 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 in an order signed by the court in May 2009. The Oregon Department of Justice's Charitable Activities Section, which handled the civil lawsuit, referred the potential criminal charges to the Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Division earlier this year. The Criminal Justice Division completed the tax investigation and will handle the newly indicted case in court.
“It is a written policy that any allegations of criminal wrongdoing unearthed during a Department of Justice civil investigation be referred to the department's Criminal Justice Division for possible prosecution,” said Sean Riddell, the head of the Criminal Justice Division. “We cannot ignore evidence of criminal conduct. We were obligated to follow up on evidence of tax evasion that arose during the civil case.”
Attorney General Kroger said that several other potential tax evasion cases are under investigation.
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, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Sizemore says the charges come as no surprise and a part of an ongoing battle between him and public employee unions.
"If it wasn't this it would be something else," Sizemore said. "This is all part of the collabortion between the AG and unions to get me. I just feel bad that they've sucked my wife into this."
Sizemore acknowledges not filing tax returns for 2006 through 2008 but says he made that decision strategically to minimize risk. He says that when a judge earlier found that tax returns he filed for a non-profit he ran were incorrect, he realized that any personal return he filed would also be incorrect because it would be related to the non-profit return.
"I filed returns for that foundation. The AG and the unions' lawyer said they were all completely wrong. So they would say my personal returns were all wrong too," Sizemore says. "The penalties would be less for not filing than for filing a false return."
He says, however, that he and his wife made payments for the taxes they expected they would owe for 2006 and 2007 (although not yet for 2008).
"We talked about filing but decided the estimated tax would be proof that we weren't trying to evade," Sizemore says. "We paid estimated taxes for '06 and '07 and I believe we paid more in estimated taxes than we've paid in other years."
Sizemore says he is unsure whether he will be taken into custody but vows to seek justice himelf
"[Attorney General] John Kroger is nothing but a tool of the public employee unions who put in office," Sizemore says. " when this is done I expect to sue him for malicious prosecution."
Riddell, the prosecutor who brought the charges says that politics had nothing to do with the decision to prosecute Sizemore. He says the case was referred by the AG's charitable activities section and that referral required an investigation, which led to indictment based on the underlying facts.
"Any claim that this prosecution is politically motivated is baseless," Riddell says.