A convicted tax cheater who failed to report to prison got sassy Monday with a federal judge, and now he may be found in contempt of court.
Richard E. Peters, 65, a retired Spokane contractor, will spend 11 days in the Spokane County Jail before the contempt hearing.
He was convicted by a U.S. District Court jury in early February of failing to report more than $1 million in stock profits and filing false income tax returns.
His trial was postponed briefly when he apparently feigned a heart attack or fainting spell and fell, face-first, from the witness chair.
He wasn’t happy about being back in court Monday, accompanied by armed federal marshals.
“I don’t have to follow your orders,” the bearded and surly defendant shouted at U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen.
“Well, we’ll see about that,” the judge responded calmly.
Peters was sentenced May 22 by Nielsen to serve two years in prison, to be followed by a year of supervised release.
He also was ordered to pay $199,090 in restitution and $7,259 for his trial costs.
When he didn’t show up earlier this month at the federal prison in Lompoc, Calif., federal marshals went looking for him.
They grabbed him Monday morning in Spokane after he answered the door, pulling on his underwear, at his home at 607 N. University.
The self-styled constitutional protester was arrested on a warrant issued after he had failed to report to the federal prison on June 19.
When he sentenced Peters last month, the judge allowed the man to remain free and voluntarily surrender once the U.S. Bureau of Prisons picked a site.
“Self-reporting” to prison is commonly done with non-violent federal prisoners so taxpayers don’t have to pay transportation costs.
“Do you remember telling me that you would voluntarily report to prison?” the judge asked Peters on Monday.
“Yes, because you threatened me,” Peters responded.
He filed a notice of appeal after his conviction but wouldn’t tell the judge Monday whether he intends to proceed with that appeal while in prison.
“You have the right to a court-appointed attorney, if you can’t afford the services of a lawyer,” the judge told Peters.
“I understand you have no jurisdiction over me,” Peters shot back. He later said he didn’t want the court to appoint an attorney for him “because they’re part of the problem.”
Nielsen set the contempt hearing for July 7.
Peters was indicted last August on charges of filing false tax returns for the tax years 1987 through 1991.
He paid $200 in federal income taxes in 1987, but no taxes during the next four years, the jury was told.
He earned $372,380 from stock sales in 1987, but told the IRS his earnings were only $11,562.
He reported losing money in 1990 and 1991, when his combined income those years from stock sales was $322,209.
During his trial, Peters testified the stock profits didn’t go into his pocket, but to a Swiss trading group. But, on cross-examination, he couldn’t remember the names of anyone in the trading group.