A certified public accountant who calls himself a constitutionalist faces jail for refusing to answer questions about his clients’ tax returns.
Federal investigators want to ask Randy Glessner about tax returns he prepared for Roy B. Stoddard and his wife, Jackie, of Tonasket, Wash.
The Stoddards are a focus of a drugrelated investigation into allegations of money laundering and false income tax returns. They haven’t been charged.
Glessner hasn’t been given immunity by prosecutors, who say he’s not the target of their probe.
“There’s no indication that he is criminally involved,” federal prosecutor Earl Hicks told the court.
The accountant, who operates his business out of his home near Omak, Wash., can be jailed for up to 18 months to see if confinement will convince him to answer grand jury questions.
Glessner and friends who testified on his behalf said that likely won’t happen.
“There are mules in Omak less stubborn than Randy is,” said witness Darlene Adams, who runs a truss business in Ephrata, Wash.
The 42-year-old accountant told U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen that he became interested in the Constitution after the Randy Weaver siege in 1992.
“It was Ruby Ridge that heightened my concern over the trustworthiness of my federal government,” Glessner said.
His attorney, Pat Stiley, told the court that Glessner is “not some gun-toting, Bible-thumping militia member.
“He’s a guy who is actually standing up to this gigantic federal government,” Stiley argued. “I believe people will say, ‘There’s a guy with integrity.”’
But Hicks said Glessner merely wants to paint himself as a hero with people who already hate the federal government.
It is a citizens grand jury panel “looking after the needs of society in general” that wants to question Glessner, Hicks said.
He said Glessner is a “selfish man” who is using “generalized fear as the basis for not testifying.”
At a hearing Monday, Glessner was found in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions before the grand jury.
The judge said it appears the government is “pursuing a legitimate criminal investigation” and has valid reasons to question Glessner.
Nielsen said Glessner rejected chances to tell the court privately why he believes the grand jury questions would be incriminating.
Before finding Glessner in contempt, the judge said the court did all it could to ensure his rights were protected.
The judge agreed to delay Glessner’s jail term until the defense appeals the contempt ruling.
Such appeals in contempt cases must be heard by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within 30 days.
Without immunity, Glessner contends he has a constitutional right not to answer questions that may be self-incriminating.
Besides that Fifth Amendment argument, he contends he has a First Amendment protection of free speech.
“I believe that freedom also extends to silence - the right not to speak,” Glessner testified during a court hearing Monday.
Glessner, a 1976 Washington State University graduate, said he started studying the U.S. Constitution after the Randy Weaver siege in North Idaho.
Weaver’s son and a U.S. deputy marshal were shot and killed during a confrontation with federal agents.
During the ensuing standoff, Weaver’s wife was killed by an FBI sniper.
“I find it difficult to accept that my government has taken so much (power) not delegated by the Constitution,” Glessner said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.