By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
A federal judge said he doesn’t think a man with local ties who pleaded guilty to tax evasion has seen the light, but he has felt the heat, according to an IRS spokesman.
U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry indicated on Friday he doesn’t believe Joseph E. Gump believes he is subject to income taxes, despite being prosecuted and sentenced for failing to pay them for years, the spokesman said.
McVerry sentenced Gump to 5 years’ probation with the first 7 months to be served at a Pittsburgh halfway house, and the next 7 on home confinement.
The judge also fined Gump $5,000, but did not order him to pay restitution.
Gump, of 625 Carley Ave., Sharon, and Huron, Ohio, pleaded guilty Nov. 23 to four counts of tax evasion.
Prosecutors said Gump stopped paying federal income taxes in 2000, claiming his wages as a Ford assembly plant worked in Avon, Ohio as “non-taxable income” for at least two of those years.
The indictment covered the years 2003-06, when he made between $59,000 and $85,000, prosecutors said. The IRS lost taxes of $69,422 for those years, prosecutors said.
In an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the indictment, Gump said federal prosecutors did not have jurisdiction to prosecute him, and the IRS did not have authority to collect income taxes from him.
Gump claimed tax laws apply only to federal lands, people who live and work on those lands, and income received from selling alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pharmaceuticals, betting and lotteries. He said none of the criteria apply to him.
Gump said he is not a US citizen, but is a citizen of “one of the sovereign states of America.”
The ideas are common in the tax protester movement but have failed numerous court tests.
In April 2011, Gump filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims against various federal officials from the Department of Justice and the IRS, and McVerry and other court employees for initiating “false criminal proceedings” against him.
In a sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo M. Dillon, Pittsburgh, asked McVerry to sentence Gump to prison for 10 to 16 months, the term recommended in sentencing guidelines.
Gump is “a steadily employed and well-paid manufacturing worker who has displayed more than a decade of defiance to the IRS and other government authorities,” Dillon said.
“In the government’s view (Gump) is a tax cheat who made a deliberate decision to shortchange his country of what Congress determined he owed,” Dillon said.
Prosecutors also have asked McVerry to order Gump to repay the costs for his court-appointed attorney. McVerry set a hearing for June 18. Prior to the hearing, Gump must provide a detailed statement of his assets and liabilities, while the government must assemble an accounting of the costs of representing him.