The federal criminal trial of Idaho state Rep. John O. Green, R-Post Falls, appears to be nearing an end in Texas. He is accused of helping a wealthy Texas couple hide assets to avoid paying income taxes.
Green, who filed in September for this third run at Kootenai County Sheriff, faces up to five years in prison after a Texas grand jury indicted him in 2018 on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. His trial started Jan. 7.
Green is charged along with Thomas D. and Michelle L. Selgas, whom Green started representing about 21 years ago. According to court records, Green allowed the couple to park vast sums of money in Green’s attorney-trust account and he then dispersed money to the Selgases in a way that would avoid detection by the Internal Revenue Service.
Thomas and Michelle Selgas both face the same conspiracy charge as Green. The Selgas also each face a charge of tax evasion.
“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.
While the indictment covers the tax years 1998-2001 and 2005, the Selgases and Green “continued the conspiracy and tax evasion through the summer 2017,” according to court records.
Efforts to reach Green’s defense attorney, Michael Minns, of Houston, were unsuccessful Monday. But Minns previously said he believed his client would be found innocent.
“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 told The Spokesman-Review in 2019. “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.
Thomas Selgas is listed as the president of the United States Bill of Rights Foundation, which call itself a “public interest advocacy organization seeking remedies at law on targeted legal issues that contravene the Bill of Rights and related constitutional law.” Green is listed as the organization’s attorney.
Under Selgas’ biography, it says he is “recognized as one of the nations leading constitutional and legal experts in the field of lawful money of the United States.”
Despite Minns’ public comments linking Green’s charge with his 2018 election to the Idaho Legislature, U.S. District Court Judge Karen Gren Scholer ordered prosecutors not to make mention of Green’s elected office or connections to the Republican Party.
She also sided with a defense request to bar prosecutors from disclosing Green’s position about how tax laws are unconstitutional.
“The evidence in this case will show the defendants did not possess a good faith subjective belief based upon a misunderstanding of the tax law,” Justice Department trial attorney Robert Kemins wrote in December. “Rather the defendants repeatedly defied the tax laws despite being told by the IRS and other authorities that their position was frivolous.”
Minns also tried to introduce as evidence a copy of “America: Freedom to Fascism,” which is a documentary released in 2006 “that explores the connection between income tax collection and the erosion of civil liberties in America.” Thomas Selgas was listed as a cast member, but Green was not.
Court clerks in Dallas, where the trial is taking place, were unable Monday to say how long the defense’s case is expected to last prior to closing arguments.
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