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Texas jury convicts Post Falls state Rep. Green, but lawmaker hopes to finish term

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 15, 2020

Idaho state Rep. Neil Anderson, left, looks on as Rep. John O. Green, R-Post Falls, asks a question during testimony before the House Commerce and Human Rights Committee in February. On Wednesday, a Texas jury convicted Green of conspiracy to defraud the federal government. The jury also convicted Green’s co-defendant, Thomas D. Selgas, of the same conspiracy charge and another charge of tax evasion. (Brian Myrick / Idaho Press)
Idaho state Rep. Neil Anderson, left, looks on as Rep. John O. Green, R-Post Falls, asks a question during testimony before the House Commerce and Human Rights Committee in February. On Wednesday, a Texas jury convicted Green of conspiracy to defraud the federal government. The jury also convicted Green’s co-defendant, Thomas D. Selgas, of the same conspiracy charge and another charge of tax evasion. (Brian Myrick / Idaho Press)

Idaho state Rep. John O. Green said Wednesday he has no immediate plans to step down after a Texas jury convicted him of the felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

The Post Falls Republican, who filed in September for his third run for Kootenai County sheriff, faces up to five years in prison. The prosecutors in Dallas filed a motion to detain Green, but U.S. District Court Judge Karen Gren Scholer released him without a bond.

Green told the Associated Press shortly after his conviction Wednesday that he plans to be back at the Idaho Statehouse on Monday to represent his constituents.

“I’m going to finish my term, and we’ll see what happens,” he said.

Green, 60, said he plans to appeal his conviction. He also said he’s not planning to defend the seat in this year’s election because he’ll likely be sent to prison.

“I’ll probably get sent to do some time,” he said. “I’ve been an attorney for 30 years, and I know how these things go. It is what it is. A lot of innocent people get convicted.”

It’s unclear how leaders of the Idaho Legislature will react now that Green, an elected lawmaker, is also now a convicted felon. Kootenai County Republican Central Committee Chairman Brent Regan said that he didn’t know the possible outcomes.

“I’m going to have to research this at this point,” Regan said. “I knew it was going on but I didn’t really consider the consequences. We’ll have to get to work.”

Green was charged along with Thomas D. and Michelle L. Selgas, whom Green started representing as their lawyer about 21 years ago. According to court records, Green allowed the couple to park vast sums of money in Green’s attorney-trust account before disbursing the money to the Selgases in a way that would avoid detection by the Internal Revenue Service.

Thomas and Michelle Selgas both faced the same conspiracy charge as Green. The couple also each faced a charge of tax evasion. The jury on Wednesday found Thomas Selgas guilty of both counts, but U.S. District Court Judge Karen Gren Scholer agreed with defense attorneys on Tuesday and dismissed the charges against Michelle Selgas.

“According to the evidence presented at trial, (Thomas) Selgas conspired with Green, an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, to defraud the United States by obstructing the Internal Revenue Service from assessing and collecting Selgas’s taxes,” according to U.S. Department of Justice news release issued Wednesday after the verdict.

“Selgas and his wife owed approximately $1.1 million in outstanding taxes that Selgas refused to pay,” the news release said. “When the IRS made efforts to collect the outstanding taxes, Selgas concealed funds” by using Green’s trust account used by lawyers to handle money for their clients.

From 2007 to 2017, Selgas deposited proceeds from the sale of gold coins and other income into Green’s trust account, and Green then paid the Selgas’ personal expenses, including their credit card bills, from that account.

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.

During 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.

Green’s status in the House isn’t completely clear. Republican House Majority Leader Mike Moyle said the body has a process to remove a lawmaker, but he wants to talk to Green and learn more details.

According to Idaho’s Constitution, two-thirds of the House’s members must vote to expel a lawmaker.

“I think it’s just too premature to even discuss that,” Moyle told the Associated Press. “It could change if somebody in this body chose to try to have him removed, and that would take a vote of the House.”

Scholer will set sentencing at a later date, according to court files.

Green’s Houston-based attorney, Michael Minns, was traveling late Wednesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

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