The Rev. Kent Hovind Reporting Blog

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hard to believe a man with a [fake] Ph.D didn't know of a basic tax law

Published - November, 3, 2006
Hard to believe a man with a Ph.D didn't know of a basic tax law

Mark OBrien
The courtroom was especially chilly at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, thanks to a mechanical problem.

"It should keep you all awake," an apologetic Judge Casey Rodgers told the 12 jurors as they embarked on the last day of the trial of Kent and Jo Hovind.

It would be a day of lengthy arguments by the lawyers fighting over the case against the Hovinds, who operate Dinosaur Adventure Land on North Palafox Street.

The defense kept arguing that Kent Hovind, the founder of Creation Science Evangelism, couldn't be found guilty until the government showed he knew he was breaking a law requiring businesses to withhold taxes from employees' wages.

That's a very hard argument to swallow -- especially because the man is smart enough to have "Dr." in front of his name, even if it's a doctorate from an unaccredited university.

And we're not talking about someone slipping a few bucks under the table to a teenager for mowing the lawn.

The government figured the Hovinds failed to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes and withholdings over the years.

The prosecutor talked about how Dinosaur Adventure Land, a theme park, "grew and grew and grew," grossing as much as $2 million a year.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer also wondered about the cash Kent Hovind took in while visiting 49 states and 35 countries to speak about creationism.

Heldmyer said he often was paid in cash for his speeches, and then got cash for books he sold at his lectures.

His wife, Jo, was liable because she wrote the checks for the family business, Heldmyer said.

"She was handling the money," the prosecutor said.

Heldmyer debunked Kent Hovind's claims that he didn't know about the law.

Government agents, a lawyer for a Christian organization, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and Rebekah Horton, the respected co-founder of Pensacola Christian School, all told Hovind about the law.

Hovind had insisted that experts assured him he was right, but "he sought out only the people who agreed with him, not the people who knew better," Heldmyer said.

It probably didn't help Kent Hovind's case that he had been accused of perjury after he filed for bankruptcy. And he often sued government agents for seizing his cars and carrying out other duties against him.

"He lost every single battle," Heldmyer said.

And he and his wife were about to lose a very big battle.

In Kent Hovind's defense, attorney Alan Richey said agents didn't follow procedure.

He also argued that Kent Hovind merely was following his religious beliefs.

But this case clearly was about taxes, not religion.

The jurors took about three hours to consider the case. When they returned to the courtroom with their verdict, they all looked down or away from the defendants.

Some attorneys say that's a sign the jury has found the defendant guilty. Others say it's just an old lawyer's myth.

But in this case, the jury looked down, and the clerk read the verdict: Both were guilty of all the charges.

The saddest thing: Had they cooperated with the agents, they probably wouldn't be worrying about prison sentences now.


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