21 December 2011

Doug Bruce Convicted Of Felony Tax Fraud and Attempted Bribery

Colorado Pols summarizes the breaking news regarding Taxpayer Bill of Rights initiative (TABOR) author and former state legislator and county commissioner Doug Bruce's felony tax fraud and attempted bribery conviction this afternoon. He was convicted of not reporting about $190,000 of interest earned by a sham non-profits that he used as his own funds over a three years period (2005-2007).

Bruce's pro se defense (he is legally trained and was a deputy district attorney in California for six years, but has never been admitted to practice in Colorado and chose to represent himself in this case), was in typical Bruce style, "unconventional" a.k.a. delusional. He acted like a tax protester who didn't respect the court rather than someone making a bona fide claim of innocence of the charges against him.

Bruce faces up to six years in prison and a hefty fine at a February 13, 2012 sentencing date, in addition to any civil liability he may have for unpaid state taxes, interest and penalties. Of course, the Court would also have any number of other sanctions available to it at sentencing, such as probation. Leniency wouldn't be uncommon for a non-violent, white collar crime defendant with no meaningful criminal record (in 1995, he served eight days in jail for contempt of court), and a record of public service and civic involvement. But, the nature of his defense and his unwillingness to accept responsibility or even to acknowledge the wrongfulness of his actions makes this less likely in his case than in other white collar criminal cases.

An appeal from Bruce is almost certain, but is unlikely to prevail.

The prosecution was made in state court, but the federal government has every right to prosecute him on nearly identical civil and criminal federal tax evasion charges if it wishes to do so.

Bruce tried to evade subpoenas and faced investigations related to civil campaign finance non-disclosure charges in 2010. He was ultimately not held in contempt of court in September, 2010, after a several day long trial in which he was represented by an attorney, although he was ordered to provide testimony in that case. In December of 2010, in the same case, a charity he founded ("Active Citizens Together") was fined $11,300 for campaign finance violations in connection undisclosed initiative contribution.

He has also recently been accused of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in Colorado and served with an order to show cause why an injunction requiring him to refrain from doing should not enter in June of 2011, while he was representing himself in a TABOR related lawsuit that he brought. He filed a bombastic answer in the case, Colorado Supreme Court case no. 10UPL058 aka case no. 11SA154, on July 7, 2011. The civil Colorado Supreme Court case in which a petition was filed on May 23, 2011, is currently pending against Bruce in the Colorado Supreme Court and requests fines as well as the injunction.

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