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Idaho lawmaker charged with federal tax evasion in Texas

March 14, 2019 Updated Thu., March 14, 2019 at 10:01 p.m.

Rep. John Green, right, asks a question during testimony before the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee at the Idaho State Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 21. (Brian Myrick / IDAHO PRESS)
Rep. John Green, right, asks a question during testimony before the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee at the Idaho State Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 21. (Brian Myrick / IDAHO PRESS)

A conservative lawyer from Post Falls, who recently won a landslide election to the Idaho House of Representatives, is facing federal charges in Texas alleging that years ago he helped a well-heeled couple avoid federal taxes by hiding the proceeds from the sale of gold coins.

Freshman state Rep. John O. Green, R-Post Falls, was indicted last year for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government for allowing Thomas and Michelle Selgas to park proceeds from the sale of their gold coins into a bank account that Green controlled “in order to evade paying their federal income taxes,” according to a news release by federal prosecutors in Texas.

“The indictment further alleges that all three defendants were involved in the filing of a false partnership tax return related to a partnership co-founded by Thomas Selgas,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release dated July 18, 2018.

Reached late Thursday in Houston, Green’s attorney, Michael Minns, decried the charges against his client and alleged government overreach.

“Mr. Green did not seem to be of interest to (federal prosecutors) in any way shape or form until after he got nominated for the state congress,” Minns said. “He was indicted after he was nominated for something they claim happened 10 or 15 years earlier.

“One has to suspect that there is some sort of motive in doing that.”

Minns continued: Green “won the election even after the indictment. It’s very unusual for someone living in Idaho to be indicted in Texas. It’s a big surprise to everybody. I suspect he will be acquitted and this will become a bad memory.”

Green, who spent about 10 years as a Texas sheriff’s deputy, belongs to the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group that believes federal agencies exceed their constitutional authority on issues concerning taxes, land management and gun rights.

In his failed 2010 bid for the Idaho House, Green’s campaign website said he believes the Internal Revenue Code is an “abomination” and that Idaho should protect its citizens from the fraud of “fiat” money.

In a 2012 bid for sheriff, Green’s campaign website showed a photo of the Constitution and he wrote that as sheriff he would “support the Constitution … against all those who would trample upon the rights of the citizens.”

In 2016, Green lost again when he challenged Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger.

Before moving to North Idaho from Houston, Green represented tax protester Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who stopped paying income tax in 1996. In 2012, the Idaho Supreme Court ordered Hart to pay more than $53,000 in delinquent taxes.

Before that, Green was barred from practice for five years in the Eastern District of Texas in 2004 for making a “recklessly false” statement when questioning the integrity of a magistrate while he was representing another persistent tax protester.

As for the current federal charges, court documents show that Green was hired by Thomas and Michelle Selgas in either 2005 or 2006. It’s not clear how he represented the couple at the same time he was barred from practice in the Eastern District of Texas.

According to court records, the Selgases sold gold coins for vast sums of money that Green would then deposit in a trust account used by lawyers in Texas. The Selgases would then pay their credit card bills and other personal expenses from Green’s lawyer account “in order to evade paying their federal income taxes,” court records state.

Minns, Green’s attorney, noted that his client has “never even been stopped for a traffic ticket in his life. He’s presumed to be innocent.”

In Texas, Green worked as a deputy at two departments, Minns said.

“He put himself through law school. He’s an honest man,” Minns said. “He’s never been accused of a crime, ever. This is something that is unusual.”

After he flew to Texas last summer for his first appearance on the current charge, the federal judge ordered Green not to possess any firearms as part of his release conditions. Minns’ office later filed a motion seeking to have those gun rights restored.

“In the wintertime, wild animals frequent the area around the home,” which court records listed as Rathdrum. Because of the ban on possessing a firearm, the defense attorney wrote, Green cannot “adequately defend his home and family against dangerous wild animals.”

“In addition to this, Green was also a law enforcement official for ten (10) years and assisted in the incarceration of many dangerous people. He is not safe unarmed,” the defense attorney wrote.

In response, federal prosecutors successfully convinced the judge to keep Green’s gun ban in place.

They noted that U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service suggests “a firearm is not an effective measure to protect against a bear,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Cox wrote. “In fact, the USFWS advises that bear spray is a better method.”

On his Facebook page Wednesday, Green shared a Health Freedom Idaho post quoting Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” that the best way to control people is to “take a little of their freedom at a time …”

Efforts to reach Green on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Idaho Press reporter Betsy Z. Russell contributed to this story.

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