Archive for November, 2012

The Beast and the False Prophet

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Johnny Harrell shipped the special laptop back so that False Prophet Ronald Weinland could use his opportunity to give yet more sermons after the last one in this age.  The opportunity given by Judge Reeves as Ron does not report to prison until January 2.  Looks like he’s back to giving sermons in his basement as he’s asking people to car pool.  There’s limited parking in his subdivision so members should carpool from parking at businesses at the exit near his home.

Ron is using his delay to report to prison to conduct one of his favorite activities, watching cable TV.  Last Sunday he watched a telecast from a competing CoG, probably from the Living CoG or maybe the Philadelphia CoG — if one of these was presented by someone Ron prophesied back in 2006 to die early on as part of the Fifth Thunder to prove his bonafides as a Prophet of the God of Abraham. He also surfed to the website of another person he prophesied to die, to read one of David Pack’s booklets.

Reading the material from those cursed with death prompted Ron to refine and correct misunderstandings and give his own interpretation of the Beast and the False Prophet.  Somewhere in his rambling sermon was a point but it escaped me.  Perhaps Ron is setting the stage to make his prison sentence prophetically significant.  After all, governments have oppressed God’s people, including ours with blue laws.  And then there’s yet another Red Sea moment for Ron with his being sentenced to 42 months in prison on the 14th.

In any case, we should be looking for yet another version of the Present Truth (TM) as we are now more than halfway into the great and terrible Day of the Lord — time for dawn to break.  More Power, Signs, and Lying Wonders from Ron.

Scofflaw Weinland

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Before I get into the subject of this post, let me point out that it’s being published at the halfway point (to the nearest minute according to my calculations) “between the two evenings” of False Prophet Ronald Weinland’s “Day of the Lord”.  The “two evenings” are the moments of the last failed return of Jesus Christ on May 26 at 1636 UTC and the next failed return of Jesus Christ at 1613 UTC next May 19.  These moments are sundown in Jerusalem on those dates.  So “dawn” of the “Day of the Lord” should be breaking any moment now.  Will it break before False Prophet Ronald Weinland reports to prison on January 2?

Another aside: I’ve heard from several relations of PKG members that their PKG member insists that my website is “all lies” .  While I expect there are inaccuracies on my website throughout several years of blogging, those inaccuracies are unintentional.  If anyone can point to a factual error, I’ll correct it.  (Opinion and the explanations of False Prophet are not facts.)  I do try to put out factual information to support my opinions and not make stuff up.  I have added a “Criminal Case” page linked in the banner at the top of the blog with court filings.  Also have information for anyone who thinks I made them up to get the documents directly from the government source, with information provide on that page.

Here are excerpts of Audra’s testimony at the trial of her father, False Prophet Ronald Weinland.  Below is from the transcript of her testimony on Friday morning of the trial (available through the federal court’s online PACER system as Docket #81 of filings in Ron’s criminal case).

From page 117 through 119 of that transcript:

8 Q When did you get married, ma’am?
9 A September 9th of ’08.
10 Q And I think you told us your father performed the service?
11 A Uh-huh.
12 Q Where did that take place?
13 A In Germany.
14 Q Did you formally get married before you went over to
15 Germany?
16 A No.
17 Q Tell the jury about that trip. When did it happen and what
18 were the circumstances?
19 A My parents were going over there for — to go to church
20 there in the Netherlands and the UK, so I had planned on going
21 there previously before I got married and before we planned to
22 get married, and about — and my fiance, he was — at the time,
23 he was going to go with us also. So we had decided since we
24 weren’t going to have a big wedding that we were just — we
25 would rather — we were trying to figure out when we were going

*** DAILY TRANSCRIPT ***
Case: 2:11-cr-00070-DCR-CJS Doc #: 81 Filed: 06/14/12 Page: 117 of 139 – Page ID#: 832
AUDRA LITTLE – CONTINUED DIRECT – MR. MCBRIDE 118

1 to get married. So about three weeks before the trip, we
2 decided to get married over there on the first day we got there
3 instead of as opposed to a couple of weeks after we went there.
4 Q So did you fly from the United States to Germany?
5 A Yes.
6 Q And so you went to Germany for the purpose of having your
7 wedding?
8 A Well, originally we had already planned to go over there.
9 Q You were going to see congregations in London —
10 A Uh-huh.
11 Q — and then the Netherlands; right?
12 A Yes.
13 Q Do you have a congregation in Germany?
14 A No.
15 Q Who was in Germany?
16 A My brother was there.
17 Q So your brother, was he married at that time?
18 A Yes.
19 Q So he and his wife could join you for the wedding?
20 A Yes.
21 Q Anybody else from the family go with you besides your mom
22 and dad?
23 A No.
24 Q So you went and had — do you remember when the wedding —
25 so the date of your marriage is actually in Germany; correct?

*** DAILY TRANSCRIPT ***
Case: 2:11-cr-00070-DCR-CJS Doc #: 81 Filed: 06/14/12 Page: 118 of 139 – Page ID#:833
AUDRA LITTLE – CONTINUED DIRECT – MR. MCBRIDE 119

1 A I think so.
2 Q So you’re in Germany, and then how long were you in
3 Germany?
4 A I think two days.
5 Q Two days. Were your mom and dad there with you?
6 A Yes.
7 Q And where did you go from Germany?
8 A I drove with my brother and his wife and my husband, we
9 drove to Antwerp, Belgium, from there.
10 Q And what did you do there?
11 A We were there to go to the church in the Netherlands. It’s
12 right near the Netherlands.
13 Q Where did your mom and dad go?
14 A They flew — I’m not sure, I — I’m not actually sure. I
15 think they flew straight to Belgium, but I’m not positive.
16 Q That’s fine. So they went on to Belgium for the services?
17 A Yes.
18 Q Or to see a congregation?

Let’s recap.  Audra was married on September 9, 2008 in Germany while accompanying the Two Witness on one of their tours of Europe.  They were in the UK the prior Saturday, September 6 and then in Belgium the following Saturday, September 13.  Audra’s marriage was during the week in between during a side excursion to visit Jeremy.  After their return to Cincinnati, Daddy hosted a blow-out reception on September 20.

After attending the sentencing hearing last Wednesday, I took a trip to the Boone County Administration building in Burlington, KY and visited their Legal Records Department.  A record turned up for Chris and Audra’s marriage.  The image below is of their marriage certificate:


Here is the salient text:

“I do certify that Audra Lynn Weinland and Christopher Douglas Little were united in marriage on the 9th day of September at Union, Kentucky under the authority of the above license and in the presence of Laura Weinland and Jeremy Weinland. Given under my hand this 9th day of September, 2008 /signed/ Ronald Weinland, Minister of the Church of God”

Here are some relevant quotes on a guide to Kentucky marriage law from the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Kentucky:

Where license is issued
The license is to be issued in the county of the female’s residence, if she lives in Kentucky, unless she is eighteen years of age or over or a widow. See KRS 402.080. If the female is not a Kentucky resident or if she is over eighteen or a widow the license may be obtained from any county court clerk in Kentucky.

Marriage solemnized outside Kentucky
A Kentucky marriage license cannot legally be used for marriage purposes in another state; if it has been, it cannot legally be filed in the office of a Kentucky county clerk. See OAG 72-622.

It’s clear that Chris and Audra’s marriage is not legally entered into under the laws of the State of Kentucky. Unless Audra perjured herself during her testimony in federal court, her father perpetrated fraud on the State of Kentucky by signing a false document claiming that a marriage was performed on Kentucky soil on a date when all participants were in Germany.  Unless Germany has a town named “Union” in a province named “Kentucky”.  Seems that getting married under German law can be rather complex.  So much easier to scribble something handy on a Kentucky marriage certificate.

This is all consistent with Ron’s propensity to play fast and loose with the facts.

What amazes me is that people continue to follow someone with who repeatedly demonstrates a lack of integrity: not following through on promises that he would not adjust his prophecies and that he would admit to being a false prophet when the prophecies failed.  Someone who has set deadline after deadline for certain events which never materialize, such as the conquering of the US before the summer of 2009 and then by August of 2011.

I doubt that Ronald Weinland will face any legal consequences for the fraud perpetrated in the office of the Boone County Clerk.  And I doubt that any of his followers will consider this civil fraud documented in official government records since they already have discounted his religious fraud.

Government Persecution of God’s Church

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Even though False Prophet Ronald Weinland was not immediately carted off to prison at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, he did not take the opportunity to talk it up to the faithful.  Instead chief dupe/evangelist Johnny Harrell is giving the sermon.  Ron may have shipped his laptop off to Georgia as Alan Giles gave the opening prayer after some pre-sermon music and then Johnny came on line.  Paul Giles gave the closing prayer. There were a couple of announcements about the death of a member’s husband and an ordination of Nat in Canberra, but nothing about the 42-month sentence handed down to God’s own End-Time Witness.

Governments have oppressed God’s people through history.   By inference the US Government is likened to  Nebechudnezzer and Pharaoh.  Similarly, Ron is likened to Jeremiah thrown in a well to shut him up because of his message.  At least to those who have found out about the conviction and sentencing.  Johnny wasn’t at the sentencing on Wednesday to hear the court make clear that the criminal case was not about Ron’s religion, but rather his failure to obey Jesus and render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.  All Ron had to do to avoid this “persecution” was to pay the proper taxes.

But Ron will still be the apostle and in charge of the church, according to Johnny.  I expect this means that whichever institution houses Ron can look forward to weekly visits by the Silent Witness.

Further details on Ron’s sentence.  Ron self-reports to prison on January 2.  There is no credit for the time he spent wearing the GPS ankle bracelet of humility.  For each year that Ron serves, he is eligible for 54 days of good conduct reduction of his sentence.  So on January 2 of 2016, his sentence may have been reduced by 162 days or most of the 6 months remaining.  So Ron should be discharged some time around the middle of January, 2016.

On his release from prison, he starts 3 years of supervised release.  One of the terms of supervised release is that he cannot leave the judicial district of the Eastern District of Kentucky without the permission of either the court or the probation office.  Depending on their mood, they might or might not be willing to allow him to travel around to visit his scattered membership.  In any case, it will be more than 3 1/2 years since Ron’s last trip out of town on May 19 to London and possibly 6 1/2 years before he can do it again.

While Ron did not show up today to spin the 42-month aspect, someone else has taken up the gauntlet.

Ron will be happy to learn he won’t have to go to prison after all.

Time Times and Half-a-Time Redux

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

District Judge Danny Reeves pronounced sentence on False Prophet Ronald Weinland this morning:

  • A sentence of 42 months, Ron to self report to prison on January 2.
  • Followed by 3 years of supervised release
  • A fine of $7,500
  • Restitution in the amount of the criminal tax loss, approximately $245,000

I started off the day by having breakfast with one of the trial jurors.  Then I went down to the federal court building in Covington.  I arrived just after Ron did, and there was a photographer near the courthouse door who did not take my picture.  I was surprised that a number of PKG members were in attendance, including:

Laura
Audra
Chris Little, Audra’s husband
Patty Dalrymple
Sandy Beys
Ralph Dowd
April Combs

Ron’s full legal defense team was present: Bob Webb and John Cline at the table flanking Ron in the center. Jon Coffman was behind the defense table with a couple of other people.  On the government side was Robert McBride and Chris Nasson, and behind them was the case agent, Special Agent Palmisano. McBride and Webb were the only attorneys who spoke.

The first part of the hearing discussed the tax loss calculation of $245K.  The defense attempted to reduce that below $200K which would reduce the sentence by 6-8 months.  One part of that was $95K of Laura’s travel expenses which the defense argued should be deductible.  The prosecution countered that this would require a trip by trip analysis to see whether Laura’s contribution was substantial, and then they would subject all of Ron’s travels to the same scrutiny which could result in an increase in the loss calculations.

The other part was the $290K deposited in the Swiss bank accounts, which the defense alleged was being held in trust for the church.  The prosecution pointed out that the expenses were being held for the Two Witnesses to use in the end times for lodging, travel, etc.

After that discussion, the tax loss calculation of $245,176 held.

Next was discussed the two-level enhancement for Sophisticated Means.  The defense argued that the Swiss bank accounts were not sophisticated as fund were wire transferred, and Ron did not keep two sets of books.  The prosecution argued that Ron over a long period of time structured his church so that he had sole legal control as the only board member of the corporation and sole spiritual control in his position directly below God and Jesus and being their spokesman.  Ron set up multiple church bank accounts and multiple personal bank accounts and multiple credit cards.  With his legal and spiritual control total and without government oversight of church activities there was no one to put the brakes on his activities.  When the defense pointed out that most transactions were legitimate church expenses, the judge likened his tax evasion to hiding a needle in a haystack, further indication of sophisticated means.  That two-level enhancement remained.

Next was discussed a two-level enhancement for Aggravate Role as the leader of a criminal organization.  The government corrected the defenses statement that it was meant to apply to the church, rather it was meant to apply to the Weinland family.  The judge responded that he regarded Ron and Laura as equal participants in the scheme and Audra as not having criminal intent.  So there was no enhancement for this.

The last enhancement was two levels for obstruction.  This remained, as the judge said that Ron perjured himself about material matters during his testimony when:

  • He stated that he did not intend to file false tax returns
  • When he claimed the church funds directly paying for Jeremy’s education were a church scholarship program.

So the recalculated sentence guidelines were

  • 18 levels for $245K of tax loss
  • +2 levels for Sophisticated Means
  • +2 levels for Obstruction

Level 22, for 41 to 51 months in prison and a fine of $7500 to $75,000.

Next discussed was the defense motion for a downward variance.  Will add more about that later.

McBride stated that the government did not question the sincerity or validity of the religious beliefs of the rank and file PKG members who wrote letters on Ron’s behalf.  But Ron exploited them with complete control and with his financial activity invisible except for the false W-2s filed.  The members would not question Ron.

He cited the letter on page 153 of the filing I provided in a previous posting.  The woman who was given $1000 for medical expenses and later $2000 for other reasons was not given Ron’s money — it was the church’s money.  Ron used the doctrine of tithing to extract money from members and taught that once given to God the member had no responsibility.

Since Ron only answered to God and Jesus, he could have taken any amount as salary and the government would have gone along with that had he just paid his taxes.

Webb pointed out that Ron did not have a double set of books and that all his transactions were through bank accounts rather than some money laundering scheme.  Otherwise Ron was law abiding for 63 years and helped people escape from drug and alcohol and their personal relationships.

On the advice of counsel, Ron declined the opportunity to address the court.  Smart advice and Ron was wise to follow it.

The judge imposed the sentence.  His goal was to promote respect for the law and protect the public from Ron’s further criminal actions, but the victim (legally) was the IRS and not the members.

Another goal was to avoid disparities in sentencing.  To vary the sentence downward from the guidelines for Ron because it was a white collar crime would be a disparity.  The judge was not impressed by the statistics cited by the defense stating that each case had to be considered individually.  The sentence in one of the cases cited by the defense was the result of a binding plea agreement — the defendant plead guilty which Ron did not do.

With the structure Ron set up there was no need for a double set of books.  So Judge Reeves denied the defense motion for downward variance.

The judge did not believe that Ron’s behavior was an unintended mistake.  Referring to the 169 letters, he indicated that they influenced him to impose the 42-month sentence at the bottom end of the 41-51 month range of the sentencing guidelines.  It seems that by imposing restitution of the $245176 amount, he shut the door on the IRS going after Ron on a civil basis for those years.  The fine imposed of $7500 is also at the low end of the sentencing guidelines.  There is an additional assessment of $500 for the guilty verdict.

The hearing lasted just under two hours.  After the hearing, I met another of the jurors for a lunch and nice visit.  The jurors are regular guys, and astonished by Ron’s behavior.  One commented that after seeing the court evidence of where Ron did his shopping, they were inclined to patronize other stores.  After lunch was more Ron-related activity which produced fruits I’ll blog later.  At the end of a long day which included driving to my next activity which is not Ron-related, I wrote this post and am finishing it up now having awakened earlier than I wanted to.

The judge did one thing I hoped he wouldn’t: giving Ron a 42-month sentence which he’ll be able to spin as prophetically significant.  On the other hand, I much prefer 42 months to a sentence in the 12-24 month range.

The judge ordered Ron to self-report to prison on January 2 and recommends to the Bureau of Prisons that he be incarcerated nearby.  Ron now has 7 more sabbaths to line up his ducks.  If Ron is assigned to Ashland nearby, Laura will be making mid-week visits to get the sermon topics for Johnny, Terry, or Wayne for the next sermon.

But it won’t be the same.  I expect that when Ron finishes his sentence, that his church will have diminished to a smaller group of stalwarts like the group that attended yesterday’s court session.

Sentencing Memorandum of Mike (DDTFA)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Judge Reeves, may it please the Court, I ask it to consider my recommendation on the sentencing of False Prophet Ronald Weinland. I have been observing the activities of Weinland for the past several years and have interacted with those affected by his actions.  The true penalty for Ronald Weinland’s crimes of falsely prophesying is death per Deuteronomy 18:22 in the Bible which Weinland claims to be able to teach.  Fortunately for Weinland, those crimes are not within human jurisdiction and the imposition of penalty likely will be delayed for quite awhile.  As it was for Herbert Armstrong, who died at the age of 90 while in his bedroom.

So the only thing I ask the Court to consider are those crimes for which you do have jurisdiction, which are the tax crimes for which he was convicted.  The prosecution has charged him with $245,000 in evaded taxes.  The defense is arguing for a lower figure because (1) the monies in Weinland’s Swiss bank account were allegedly held in trust for the church, and (2) Laura’s travel expenses to various congregations with her husband should not be charged as income.  I say that we should give him the benefit of the doubt on these points as far as criminal but not civil charges.  Maybe Ron did not spend any of the money deposited in the Swiss bank accounts and did eventually bring it all back to church bank accounts in the US.  Perhaps he honestly believed that Laura’s travel expenses were not taxable income.  I would not argue that would excuse him from paying the taxes and any civil penalties, but should not factor in on a criminal basis.  This comes from Weinland’s most consistent critic who has publicly criticized him for over 4 years in Internet blogs and has been the recipient of death curses issued by Weinland.  Removing the amounts for those items from the criminal basis would reduced his criminal tax liability to under $200,000 and put him at base offense level 16, for a sentence of 21-27 months.

The probation officer’s sentencing report calls for a 2-level enhancement for sophisticated means for having a Swiss bank account.  Let’s give Ron the benefit of the doubt on that.  Even though he took steps early on to hide the Swiss bank accounts from the general public by not sending out the customary tape recordings of sermons in 2002 and 2003 in which mentioned the accounts, he did disclose them to the IRS special agent on his initial interview.

The pre-sentencing report calls for a two-level enhancement for Obstruction of Justice.  In my opinion, this should apply.  While I did not hear Weinland’s testimony, I understand that he claimed to have a church scholarship program to justify paying his son’s educational expenses from church accounts.  A scholarship program which benefited exactly one person.  That doesn’t pass the smell test.  Also, there was the non-cooperation of his daughter Audra in response to IRS summonses which required special court action in 2009 to compel her to comply.  Do we believe that Weinland had absolutely nothing to do with her decision to disobey the summons?  So I argue this two-level enhancement should apply, raising his offense level from 16 to 18.

The prosecution has called for another two-level enhancement either for Aggravated Role or for Abuse of Position of Trust.

With respect to Aggravated Role. I argue this would apply, as he directed the activities of his wife and daughter in this pattern of criminal behavior. Despite his devotion to the church, he filled out false income tax returns not only for himself and his wife, but also for his daughter.

With respect to Abuse of Position of Trust.  As the prosecution points out, Weinland was indeed a position of trust to the IRS.  As the only officer in his church corporation which was not required to make any filings with the government as to its financial activity, they trusted him to comply with the law.  I ask that you use whatever authority you have to restrict Weinland from controlling the financial activities of any church organization, whether directly or indirectly via his ecclesiastical authority.  Weinland should turn his church corporation over to others and resign as an officer, and there should be reliable external oversight of its financial activity.

Applying a two-level enhancement either for Aggravated Role or Abuse of Position of Trust raises the offense level from 18 to 20.

The defense has argued for a downward variance in Weinland’s sentence.  The defense claims that Weinland’s failure to properly pay his taxes was because he was so heavily devoted on a daily basis to his ecclesiastical duties.  I wonder how Weinland devoted his time to his church while on a 10-day Mediterranean cruise in October of 2007 — this immediately after having called on his members to support his evangelism in the advance of the Great Tribulation he prophesied for the following year.  How much time did he devote to his church while on a 2-day layover in Hawaii in late December of 2007?  This was at a time during which according his own statements he had no members in Hawaii.  How much time time did he devote to his church during a 2-day stay during January of 2008 at the 5-diamond Venetian Resort Hotel Casino? At that time he wasn’t even holding one of his elders conferences at that location. How devoted to the church is he while watching cable TV all day in his $381,000 home on a golf course?  Cable TV is a luxury some of his members can’t afford after donating heavily to Weinland.

Weinland’s defense team has attempted to sway the court by dumping a massive filing of 169 letters of support from his members.  Many of these letters cite being reimbursed by the church for performance of duties as elders.  Others mention financial assistance to attend their holy days.  They refer to “second tithe assistance” which is funded by the voluntary donations of other more fortunate members.  Several mention the trinkets the Weinlands hand out to small children. I point out that these letters are written by sincere yet simple people who believe that Weinland speaks for God.  These people continue to believe that despite two failed dates for Christ’s return (in September of 2011 and on Memorial Day weekend this year).  I believe most PKG members to be honest yet deluded people.

But you haven’t heard from those affected by those honest yet deluded people, their friends and family.  Many of whom are afraid to speak out in criticism of Weinland is doing and the affect he has on those deluded people for fear of being cut off from contact.  Such as the teenage girl mourning the loss of attention from her father who is totally focused on Weinland and has damaged the financial prospects of his family irrevocably by donating their assets to him.  Weinland’s own sister has been cut off by other nearby siblings for the simple offense of participating in my website to express dismay at the conviction of her brother.

When considering Weinland’s personal characteristics, I ask that you consider the following:

  • Weinland claimed that he and his wife were the Witnesses foretold in Revelation chapter 11.  Yet of all the powers attributed in the Bible to these Two Witnesses, his only exercise of those powers was calling for the deaths of those who criticize him.  This death curse were issued, and reissued again.  This curse was delivered in a deliberate fashion reading from a pre-written statement.  Even as recently as May, I was issued another death curse as one of 7,000 “named” to die during the hour of Christ’s return.
  • Weinland has failed to live up to his promises.  In December of 2007, he promised that if the Great Tribulation prophesied to begin in April of 2008 did not materialize, that he would not change his prophecies.  At the time he mocked those who did that sort of thing as in it for the paycheck.  Again in March of 2008, he reiterated his promise, stating he would stop preaching in early June and by July of 2008 if nuclear weapons were not detonated he would admit to being a false prophet.  Yet in June of 2008, he did exactly what he promised that he wouldn’t do, changing the prophesied return of Christ from September of 2011 to May of 2012.  And now his “Present Truth” is that Christ will return in May of next year.

To date, Weinland has not exhibited any signs of remorse or that he accepts responsibility for his criminal actions. He had substantial unreported income even for tax year 2008 even after becoming aware of the criminal investigation.  He has publicly stated that the church is paying for his legal defense. He has not repented before his church in any of his sermons.  Instead, he has stated that he will not dignify criticisms of his actions with any kind of response.  And privately has told his members not to read other sources about his misdeeds including mainstream newspapers.  Or circulated the story that it’s just a misunderstanding about his Swiss bank account, with no mention of his profligate spending habits.  Or allowed some to think that he is being persecuted because his church does not have permanent buildings.  Anything to avoid the truth of his misdeeds.

I call for sentencing within the guidelines for offense level 20 with no downward variance.  Consistent with this, I call for:

  • A sentence of exactly 40 months.  This is within the guideline range of 33 to 41 months for offense level 20.  A 40-month sentence also carries an additional message to Weinland.  In his theology, the number 40 is the number of judgment.  For example, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 year, and it rained for 40 days and nights to create the flood for Noah.  He often cites the death of Joseph Tkach, who died 40 weeks to the day after committing the apostasy that broke apart the church of God.  (Weinland claims that Tkach’s death was the same hour of the day as the sermon, and continues to claim that despite proof that it is not true.)
  • A substantial amount of restitution.  When calculating the amount of restitution, please consider the direct costs by the government to try Weinland: The juror fees for the trial were several thousand dollars alone.  Also consider that the jurors suffered expenses as their lives and lively hoods were disrupted during the trial.  Then there were the costs of the other participants including the prosecution, the IRS special agent, and the other IRS personnel.  Last but not least were the costs for Special Agent Palmisano to conduct the lengthy investigation begun over 4 years ago.
  • A fine in the amount of $75,000.  The guidelines for offense level 20 provide for  fine in the range of $7,500 to $75,000.  The fine imposed should be the maximum amount, considering the costs of incarcerating Weinland for 40 months.
  • Three years of supervised release following Weinland’s release from prison, during which Weinland is not allowed to control church finances or in any manner use any ecclesiastical authority to influence the control of church finances.

In summary, I call for the Court to impose on False Prophet Ronald Weinland a  prison sentence of at least 40-months followed by 3 years of supervision, a $75,000 fine, and a substantial charge for restitution.  A substantial message of deterrence needs to be sent to Weinland and other in similar positions who could repeat these crimes.

 

A Bit of Sixth Thunder as the Dawn Breaks

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Jim Hannah of the Northern Kentucky edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer has written an article about False Prophet Ronald Weinland.  It leads off:

Doomsday ‘prophet’ awaits sentence

Weinland faces up to 5 years in prison for federal tax evasion

COVINGTON — A self-styled doomsday prophet who has led a worldwide following for more than a decade from his $357,000 Union home will find out Wednesday the length of his prison sentence for federal tax evasion.

The article continues on with a nice summary of developments since trial.  Read on at this link.

Included with the article is a picture of Weinland’s home reprising a picture I took 4 years ago.

Additional stories from WLWT TV and the AP.

SENTENCING MEMORANDUM OF THE UNITED STATES

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Below is the US Attorney’s office filing to the Court regarding Weinland’s sentencing.  There’s a bit of legalese at the beginning, but stay with it.  It gets more interesting:

COMES now the United States of America, by and through counsel, and moves this Court to sentence Ronald E. Weinland, the Defendant herein, to 60 months imprisonment for the reasons set forth below.

A sentencing court is required to “consider the Guidelines ‘sentencing range established for . . . the applicable category of offense committed by the applicable category of defendant,’ the pertinent Sentencing Commission policy statements, the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities, and the need to provide restitution to victims.” United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 260-64 (2005) (internal citations omitted). A defendant’s Guidelines range provides a sentencing court a benchmark or point of reference when considering the proper sentence to impose. Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 49 (2007); see also United States v. Simmons, 587 F.3d 348, 392 (6th Cir. 2009)(stating Guidelines are the starting point in determining a sentence). In addition to the Guidelines, a sentencing court must consider the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

The Sixth Circuit has instructed sentencing courts to engage in a three-step sentencing process. See United States v. Bolds, 511 F.3d 568, 579-80 (6th Cir. 2007). First, a sentencing court must determine the applicable Guidelines range, which should be the “starting point” of its sentencing analysis. Id. at 579 (internal quotations omitted). Second, a sentencing court must give both parties the opportunity to argue for whatever sentence they deem appropriate, and then the Court must consider all of the § 3553(a) factors to determine whether they support the sentence requested by each party. Id. at 579-80. Finally, a sentencing court must adequately explain the sentence it renders. Id. at 580. In following this three-step process, the District Court is required to consider the properly calculated Guidelines and the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3533(a) to fashion as sentence not greater than necessary to accomplish the ends of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2).

A. Guidelines calculations.

It is by now well-settled the Guidelines are advisory in nature. The Guidelines are important to determining a defendant’s sentence. United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 252 (2005); see also United States v. Davidson, 409 F.3d 304, 310 (6th Cir. 2005)(sentencing procedure set out in Booker requires proper calculation of the Guidelines). The Presentence Investigation Report (PSR), as revised on October 19, 2012, in response to the objections of the parties, sets out the applicable Guidelines calculations.

The PSR Guidelines calculation sets the base offense level at 18 pursuant to U.S.S.G. §§ 2T1.1 and 2T4.1(G) because the tax loss is approximately $245,000 for the tax years at issue. Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2T1.1(b)(2), the base offense is enhanced two levels for sophisticated means.1 Also, there is a two level increase in the offense level under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(c) for Weinland’s leadership role with respect to his spouse. Finally, there is a two level increase in the offense level for obstruction of justice under U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1, based on Weinland’s materially false trial testimony. The resulting offense level is 24. Based on his criminal history category of I and an offense level of 24, Weinland’s corresponding Guidelines indicate a term of imprisonment ranging from 51 to 63 months, a fine of $10,000 to $100,000, up to three years supervised release, restitution, and the costs of prosecution.

B. Factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

In determining Weinland’s sentence, the Court must consider the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). The government addresses some, but not all of those factors below.

1. The nature and circumstances of the offense.

The nature and circumstances of the offense of conviction require
Weinland serve a significant term of imprisonment. Weinland exploited his position as minister of the Church of God, Preparing for the Kingdom of God (PKG), gaining legal, organizational, and theological control over the church and its money. He then used the instrumentalities of PKG to fund an affluent life-style and evade the payment of income taxes.

Weinland had complete legal authority over PKG. He established PKG in the Toledo, Ohio area. Before relocating to Northern Kentucky, Weinland created the current corporate structure of PKG in response to a challenge to his authority in an earlier iteration of the church. Under PKG’s corporate structure, Weinland was the only officer. There was no board of trustee or directors. He was required to produce no financial reports, and he provided none. Only Weinland had the authority to spend PKG funds, hire and fire employees, set salaries, and contract services.

Weinland set up PKG’s as a religious non-profit organization, in part, to shield his activities. As a religious non-profit, PKG had no reporting obligation to the government – not even the minimal reporting the government requires of non-religious non-profit organizations, which includes naming the officers, their salaries, major sources of income, and major expenses. PKG reported nothing to the government, except W-2s and 1099s. In essence, Weinland and his salary were virtually invisible to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), except for the false W-2s Weinland created and filed.

Weinland’s legal authority allowed him to control PKG funds. He controlled the bank accounts and the methods by which PKG paid its bills. He used PKG funds to paid his utilities, mortgage, home addition, cars, insurance, clothing, vacations, and similar expenses of his adult children. He alone decided where he would travel, the mode of travel, the length of the travel and who accompany him at PKG’s expense. With no board of directors and no elders with any real authority, Weinland answered to no one in PKG for his extravagant spending. His control of the organization at the legal and operational level was complete.

Weinland exploited the religious beliefs of PKG’s members to further his tax avoidance scheme. The members of PKG believed Weinland is one of the two prophets foretold in the Book of Revelation who herald end-time, and that Weinland speaks on behalf of God. As Weinland testified at trial, PKG’s spiritual hierarchy is a follows: God is the head of the church, Jesus Christ is after God, and Weinland is third after Jesus Christ. According to Weinland and others who testified at trial, Weinland is the head of PKG and no other member of PKG had authority over him. Weinland used this “head of the church” status to insulate himself from accountability with the members of PKG. He was accountable only to God, Jesus Christ and himself. Under this construct, no member of PKG could question the Prophet, or his family.

Members of PKG tithe regularly as part of their belief system. Weinland preached tithing was the member’s obligation. The tithes were paid to PKG, deposited in PKG accounts, and then used, in part, to pay Weinland family expenses directly and on credit cards, at Weinland’s direction. The members’ tithes were PKG’s, and ultimately Weinland’s, only source of income. Interestingly, Weinland preached to PKG members they should “pay unto Caesar what is his,” meaning they should pay their fair share of taxes – something Weinland chose not to do.

Weinland knew there was little chance he would be questioned about PKG tithes. Weinland preached the tithing obligation was complete when the money was given to the church. PKG members believed that once they tithed, their obligation to God was satisfied. PKG members testified they had no interest in how the tithed funds were used. What PKG or Weinland did with the tithe was not the member’s problem or concern. This belief reinforced Weinland’s complete control over PKG funds, and ensured PKG’s members would not hold him accountable for how he used those funds.

The evidence at trial overwhelmingly demonstrated Weinland used his legal, organizational and spiritual control over PKG to implement and advance his tax evasion scheme. Operating with no scrutiny, Weinland utilized multiple bank accounts for PKG and for himself. He comingled funds among the PKG accounts and his personal accounts. He used funds from PKG accounts to directly pay many of his expenses or to pay off credit cards that carried personal expenses. He hired only family members to handle the finances – first himself, then his wife, and later his daughter, Audra. He transferred funds to accounts in Switzerland. He issued his own W-2s, grossly understating his taxable income, and filed false returns (or no return in one year) with the IRS. All of these activities served to obscure his true income of approximately $4.4 million that flowed through PKG into his hands in the tax years 2004 through 2007.

Weinland claims he was prosecuted for his religious beliefs. His assertion is
baseless. It was Weinland, at trial, who invoked his religious beliefs as justification for his actions. His false claim of religious bias is, however, consistent with his practice of hiding his misconduct under the cloak of religion. Several PKG members testified at trial. Their testimony demonstrated that they genuinely held their religious views, and believed in Weinland. The United States never questioned the validity of their views.

The United States called most of the testifying church members on direct for the purpose of establishing PKG’s organizational structure, function, and the events routine to its members. It was these individuals who testified about Weinland’s status in the church and his authority in all things related to the legal, operational and community aspects of PKG. Weinland exploited PKG members’ devotion to him as the Prophet; he abused PKG members’ trust placed in him as their minister; he used the tenets of their faith to encourage tithing so he could continue to spend extravagantly; and he exploited his stewardship of the financial instrumentalities of PKG to conceal his taxable income, all to further his scheme to avoid paying income taxes. Weinland’s scheme, lasting many years, perverted his role as a religious leader serving his church to a minister who used his church for financial gain and to escape his tax liabilities.

2. The history and characteristics of the Defendant.

The United States does not dispute that Weinland was a minister for most of his adult life. There is also no dispute that some members of PKG found spiritual leadership and satisfaction in Weinland’s teachings, services and ministry. Additionally, Weinland has no prior criminal convictions. These facts mitigate in Weinland’s favor. They are, however, outweighed by other facts.

Weinland used family members as part of his scheme. Laura Weinland lived the grand lifestyle with her husband. When PKG started, it was Laura who collected the tithes, handled the PKG accounts and the Weinlands’ personal accounts, and paid Weinland’s bills and expenses from the PKG accounts. Later, Laura Weinland transferred many of the book keeping duties of PKG to her daughter, who Weinland hired for the church. Laura continued to travel throughout the United States and Europe with Weinland and she spent money on personal expenses. Yet she signed each tax return Weinland prepared and filed, knowing the income claimed thereon was grossly understated.

Audra Weinland was a beneficiary of Weinland’s largess with PKG funds. As the book keeper, she was issued a W-2 for her modest salary. Her mortgage, utilities, insurance, and car payments were all made from PKG accounts. Likewise, Weinland used PKG funds to pay for his son’s, Jeremy’s, luxury car, education and wedding in Germany. Weinland used his family members to perpetrate his tax evasion scheme. Weinland rewarded his family members at the expense of their church. These facts aggravate Weinland’s criminal conduct.

3. Promote respect for the law.

The facts of this case demonstrate Weinland has no respect for the law. Weinland was revered as the leader of his church and as the Prophet. Church members testified that it did not matter to them what Weinland spent or what he was paid. Weinland could have paid himself and his family members virtually any salary, and the members of PKG neither would have been concerned nor known. Yet, Weinland chose to comingle funds and expenses, file false W-2s, and file false returns (or no return), all in an attempt to evade paying taxes. To date, Weinland has neither admitted culpability nor accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct.

Income taxes are a duty required by federal law. The federal income tax system is based on voluntary taxpayer participation. For it to function, taxpayers must respect the law and follow it. Weinland cannot be allowed to fail to pay $245,000 in taxes on approximately $4.4 million dollars under these circumstances merely because he is a religious leader. No one is above the law. A significant term of imprisonment in this case will promote respect for the law.

4. Specific and general deterrence.

A significant term of imprisonment will deter Weinland from such future conduct. Weinland claims there is no deterrent value in imprisonment because he will not commit this crime again. The facts indicate otherwise.

Weinland’s scheme remains largely intact. He continues to hold the legal, organizational and spiritual reigns of PKG. PKG continues to receive tithes from congregations world-wide. Audra is still the book keeper, and Laura Weinland is now considered a Prophet. PKG continues to pay Weinland’s expenses, such as car insurance, and Weinland is still an employee of the church. Moreover, the members of PKG do not seem to be requiring changes in the church’s structure to prevent Weinland from recidivism. Rather, some members of PKG remain devoted to Weinland. Only a significant term of imprisonment will deter Weinland from repeating his tax evasion scheme.

Weinland’s tax evasion scheme would not be novel if he were running a business. However, there are many persons running non-profit organizations which are shielded from reporting to the IRS. Many such organizations are closely-held and have lofty objectives and/or are religious in nature. Individuals who run such organizations stand in a place of authority, much like Weinland in this case. A sentence of 60 months imprisonment will send a strong message to those persons that an organization’s non-profit status or its religious function does not shield them from paying federal income taxes.

C. Conclusion.

The Court must fashion a sentence not greater than necessary to achieve the sentencing objectives set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). A sentence of 60 months incarceration is a significant sentence in middle of the Guidelines range for imprisonment. Such a sentence accounts for the aggravated nature and circumstances of the offense, and the history and inherent characteristics of Weinland. Sixty months imprisonment will provide just punishment, promote respect for the law, and deter Weinland and others similarly situated from attempting to evade income taxes. Moreover, there is no meaningful alternative sentence available in this case. Nothing less than a sentence of 60 months of incarceration will accomplish the objectives of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2).

WHEREFORE, the United States respectfully submits the Defendant should be sentenced to 60 months incarceration and other such punishment as the Court deems appropriate.

 

The Defense Against Levels

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

The defense team for False Prophet Ronald Weinland made court filings regarding his sentencing.  The pre-sentencing report from the probation office put Ron at an offense level of 18 based on taxes evaded of $245,000, an additional 2 levels for sophisticated means (his Swiss bank accounts) and 2 more levels for obstruction of justice.  The US attorneys have asked for 2 more levels either based on aggravated role as the leader of a criminal enterprise or for abuse of trust.

The defense filing argues relative to the Swiss bank account:

Any funds or property that a taxpayer holds in trust for another are not included in the taxpayer’s gross income (i.e., 26 U.S.C. § 61). See 26 U.S.C. § 671. This is true even where, as a result of the taxpayer’s role as trustee, the taxpayer has dominion and control over the trust assets. Id. Accordingly, if Mr. Weinland held or received money or property in trust for the church, such amounts should not be included in Mr. Weinland’s gross income.

My response: Ron posted on his blog: “As it was stated in that sermon, those funds were placed in my name, yet there was also another name on the account, as an additional representative (an evangelist) of the Church, who had full access and legal right to those Church funds at any time.”  Yet Johnny Harrell did not explain this to the IRS Special Agent when asked about it. And the “full access” was only a power of attorney executed a year-and-a-half after opening the account.  The jury was not impressed with Johnny’s testimony.  The money became legally Ron Weinland’s when put into a personal account.  If he had died during the year-and-a-half  before executing the power of attorney for Harrell, it would have become part of his estate.  Some trust.

Here, it is undisputed that Mr. Weinland transferred approximately $290,000 of church funds in 2007 through his personal account into certain foreign accounts with a foreign financial institution in Switzerland. It is also undisputed that Mr. Weinland established the foreign accounts in 2003 shortly after Mr. Weinland delivered a sermon to church members in late 2002 informing them that, consistent with their beliefs, he was going to open an account in Switzerland in his personal name using approximately $200,000 of church funds. After opening the account, Mr. Weinland traveled to Switzerland with a COG-PKG representative so that the representative could be added as a power of attorney on the account. In late 2008 and early 2009, all of the funds in the foreign accounts were transferred from the foreign accounts back to church accounts in the United States.  It is clear that these funds remained church funds while on deposit in the foreign accounts and the funds were eventually returned to the church accounts. There was no attempt by Mr. Weinland to hide from church members the existence of the foreign accounts, the transfer of church funds to the foreign accounts, the reasons for the transfers to the foreign accounts, or the fact that the foreign accounts were opened in his personal name.

Actually, Ron did not send out cassette tapes of the sermon.  Nor did he send out tapes of a sermon a few months later during May of 2003 in which he mentioned the Swiss bank accounts.  The recording of the December 2002 sermon did not appear on the church website until 2010.  As pointed out by the government following their investigation, his members and even Johnny Harrell did not know how much money was in the accounts.

Then the issue of Laura’s globe trotting with Ron was discussed.

At trial, Mr. Weinland and other church members testified as to the vital role that Mrs. Weinland’s played in the church and to Mr. Weinland’s ministry. It is undisputed that most of the Weinlands’ airfare costs involved visiting and worshipping with church members and congregations across the world. The testimony clearly supported a determination that Mrs. Weinland performed a bona fide business purpose on behalf of the COG-PKG when she traveled with Mr. Weinland to visit, counsel and worship with these members and congregations. The total airfare costs for Mrs. Weinland over the time periods covered by the indictment totaled approximately $95,000.

Actually, Special Agent Palmisano mentioned quite a bit of other activity by Laura, such as shopping.

Then the defense addressed the 2-level enhancement for sophisticated means:

At the heart of the conduct at issue was a very unsophisticated reimbursement process wherein Mr. and Mrs. Weinland reimbursed themselves with church funds for expenses that were incurred on personal credit cards. Although the government disagreed with how certain expenses were characterized (i.e., church vs. personal), the evidence at trial supported a reimbursement process through which the Weinlands reimbursed themselves for substantial legitimate church expenses that they had incurred on their personal credit cards. For example, the government’s investigation determined that the Weinlands incurred legitimate church expenses on their personal credit cards totaling $2,979,417.57 (or, approximately 84% of the $3,567,236.35 in total credit card transactions) during the time period covered by the indictment. Mr. Weinland did nothing to hide this reimbursement process or the related transfers.

Did nothing to hide?  He did nothing to make it public.  Even Audra didn’t understand it.

All transfers were made through accounts either held in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Weinland and the church. Most of the purchases at issue were made using credit cards held in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Weinland. The Weinlands kept a significant amount of expense receipts during the five year period and created a significant paper trail that permitted the government to completely reconstruct five years of financial activity.

This “significant amount of expense receipts” was dumped on the government almost 4 years after being asked for them, just 3 weeks before trial.  Hardly much time for the government to “completely reconstruct” 5 years of financial activity.

The defense argues that after excluding the $290,000 deposited in the Swiss bank account and $95,000 of Laura’s airfare from unreported income that the recalculated tax loss would be less than $200,000 for an offense level of 16 instead of 18 for a sentencing range of 21 to 27 months.

To counter the probation officer’s recommendation for a two-level enhancement for obstruction, the defense argues:

Moreover, the Sixth Circuit has recognized that “not every false statement made by a criminal defendant at trial necessarily qualifies as perjury.” United States v. Bazazpour, 690 F.3d 796 (6th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). As a result, in applying Section 3C1.1 to alleged false testimony by the defendant, “the court should be cognizant that inaccurate testimony or statements sometimes may result from confusion, mistake, or faulty memory and, thus, not all inaccurate testimony or statements necessarily reflect a willful attempt to obstruct justice.”….. In determining what constitutes perjury, courts are to rely upon the definition of perjury set forth under the federal criminal perjury statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1621. Id. (quoting United States v. Dunnigan, 507 U.S. 87, 94 (1993). A witness violates the federal criminal perjury statute if he or she “gives false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake or faulty memory.”

So it seems that not only is Ron a False Witness but he was also a false witness at his trial.

Additionally, the Section 3C1.1 enhancement only applies where a defendant “engages in obstructive conduct with knowledge that he or she is the subject of an investigation or with the correct belief that an investigation of the defendant is probably underway.” Bazazpour, 690 F.3d 796. Thus, a defendant “who engages in obstructive conduct prior to the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the instant offense is not subject to the enhancement.”

In 2009, Agent Palmisano issued a summons to Audra to provide information.  Audra resisted the summons, refusing to comply and a lawyer was hired to represent her.  Audra had to be compelled to provide evidence.  Do we believe that Ron had absolutely nothing to do with this?  I doubt it.  I rather believe he was involved in this obstructive behavior.

Regarding the government’s request for a two-level enhancement for Aggravated Role, the defense argues.

Section 3B1.1(c) provides for a two-level enhancement “[i]f the defendant was an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor in any criminal activity.” U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(c). For the enhancement under Section 3B1.1(c) to be warranted, “a defendant must have exerted control over at least one individual within a criminal organization….” United States v. Lalonde, 509 F.3d 750, 765 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting United States v. Vandeberg, 201 F.3d 805, 811 (6th Cir. 2000)). In arguing for the aggravated role enhancement under Section 3B1.1(c), the government seems to be taking the position that the COG-PKG is a criminal organization. Such an allegation is unfortunate.

I don’t see that the government is calling PKG a criminal organization.  PKG members are sincere though deluded. A criminal organization is not typically legally incorporated. The criminal organization would be the Weinland family itself, not the church.

In response to the two-level enhancement for Abuse of Position of Trust, the defense argues that the victim of the charges for which Ron was convicted was the IRS for which Ron did not technically hold a position of trust.  My response is that as a leader of a church not required to make annual filings that he did hold a position of trust with respect to the IRS.

The defense made arguments for a downward variance.

The offenses of which Mr. Weinland stands convicted—five separate counts of tax evasion—are unquestionably serious. But the “circumstances of the offense[s]” suggest that the conduct at issue was primarily the result of the substantial growth of The Church of God – Preparing for the Kingdom of God (“COG-PKG”) during the time period covered by the indictment coupled with Mr. Weinland’s admitted failure to ensure that appropriate recordkeeping and accounting measures were in place to accommodate the church’s rapid growth and properly account for the church’s expenses, rather than any affirmative acts of Mr. Weinland to evade the payment of tax.

Mr. Weinland has spent the majority of his life in service to various church congregations as a minister. During the time period covered by the indictment, Mr. Weinland spent most of his time traveling to counsel, worship, and study with numerous COG-PKG congregations and church members across the world, preparing and delivering sermons, updating website materials, and writing a book. To be clear, Mr. Weinland’s significant daily efforts on behalf of COG-PKG are not offered as an excuse to any tax deficiency owed to the government or any failure to oversee the church’s finances. They simply confirm that Mr. Weinland was overwhelmed by the extensive growth of COG-PKG and his constant efforts to reach out to members across the world and did not have the appropriate expertise or assistance to properly address the substantial accounting and tax issues inherent to the operation of a religious or nonprofit organization.

I wonder what significant efforts Ron made for the church on the days on which he was on his Total Resolve Cruise, while on a 2-day layover in Hawaii and another 2-day layover at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino which was in addition to his other stays there for elders conferences.  Ron’s profligate spending habits relative to his stated income overwhelm the argument that he was overwhelmed by the growth in his church.

As stated above, Mr. Weinland understands the seriousness of the offenses and does not take them lightly. As the leader of COG-PKG, Mr. Weinland has acknowledged that he made mistakes in overseeing the financial matters of the church. To that end, Mr. Weinland has taken steps to engage a reputable accounting firm, with significant experience in working with religious organizations, nonprofits and ministers, to assist the church with handling financial and accounting matters. Further, Mr. Weinland accepts full responsibility for his actions and recognizes that there is likely tax due and owing for the tax years at issue. Mr. Weinland is prepared to cooperate fully with the IRS to determine what his appropriate civil tax liability is for the years at issue and work with the IRS to address payment of any outstanding liability.

It appears to me that Ron did not mend his ways after finding out about the investigation. He even stated on his blog that the church was paying for his legal defense.  Don’t worry — the IRS will get their money on a civil basis.  Too bad it will come from the pockets of Ron’s followers.

The numerous sentencing letters in support of Mr. Weinland that were submitted to the Court under seal offer more detail. The letters come from individuals throughout the world that Mr. Weinland has touched in deep and meaningful ways throughout his years in service as a minister. They portray Mr. Weinland as a compassionate counselor that has helped many families traverse difficult times ranging from marriage troubles to severe health issues; as a dedicated teacher that has helped lead and nurture numerous people in their daily religious studies and devotions; as a devoted husband and parent that serves as a role model and mentor to church members; as a trusted advisor that has helped guide several individuals through the darkness and despair of addiction and depression; as a kind and generous friend; and as a man of integrity.

I think the letters portray his followers as easily bought off by promotions to elder and partial refunds of their tithes in the form of travel expenses for their duties as elders, or trinkets for children.

Then the defense goes on to cite average sentence lengths in recent years of around 16 months.  It also cited:

In United States v. Shehan, No. 2:10-CR-72 (E.D.Ky. Jan. 6, 2012), an individual taxpayer pleaded guilty to one count of attempted income tax evasion under 26 U.S.C. § 7201. The district court determined that the amount of tax due and owing to the IRS was $2,256,819.96 and sentenced the defendant to 24 months.

In United States v. Rozin, et al, No. 1:05-CR-139 (S.D.Ohio Feb. 9, 2011), taxpayer Rozin, along with other defendants, took business and individual tax deductions for the cost of so-called “Loss of Income” insurance policies, although the insurance aspect of the policies was questionable and the policies allegedly permitted Rozin to get back or maintain control of the premium funds. Rozin was convicted by a jury on three counts of tax-related crimes: subscribing a false tax return under 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1); attempting to evade taxes under 26 U.S.C. § 7201; and conspiracy to defraud the Government under 18 U.S.C. § 371. Following Rozin’s conviction, the district court determined the tax loss to be $775,294 and sentenced Rozin to 12 months and 1 day, and the court of appeals affirmed.

I would point out that Shehan pleaded guilty.  As far as Rozin, there were other defendants to share the blame.  I think the judge should consider the length of time that Agent Palmisano needed to investigate Ron including overcoming motions to quash requests for information and the non-cooperation of Ron’s daughter Audra which was no doubt totally her idea.

Next the defense turned to the notion of deterrence:

Weinland does not require any further deterrence. He has no prior criminal record and, as the sentencing letters reflect, has lived an exemplary life. Even with a sentence at the low end of the appropriate advisory sentencing range, he will be almost 65 years old upon release from prison. Weinland has worked to correct accounting and record keeping practices within COGPKG, and he has engaged a reputable CPA firm experienced in representing churches and nonprofits, in order to ensure that there are no tax issues in the future and all income is appropriately reported. There is no chance of recidivism.

No change of recidivism?  Really?  Ron returns to control the purse strings of a church with no oversight.  No chance, huh?

The letters to the Court make clear that the public needs no protection from Mr. Weinland. In no way is Mr. Weinland a “danger to society.” Imprisonment is thus not necessary to further this sentencing goal.

It’s clear that the easily deluded public needs protection from financial piranhas like Ron Weinland.

No restitution should be ordered against Mr. Weinland. Restitution is not mandatory in this matter. See United States v. Frith, 461 F.3d 914, at 919 n.2 (7th Cir. 2006) (after Booker, 543 U.S. at 246, 259-60, § 5E1.1 is advisory). Section 5E1.1(b)(2), provides that restitution need not be ordered if the district court finds that “determining complex issues of fact related to the cause or amount of the victim’s losses would complicate or prolong the sentencing process to a degree that the need to provide restitution to any victim is outweighed by the burden on the sentencing process.” Here, any loss related to Mr. Weinland’s specific conduct would be limited to any unpaid taxes due and owing to the government. The appropriate avenue to determine Mr. Weinland’s potential tax deficiency for the years at issue would be through an IRS civil audit that is sure to follow. This will ensure that all of the complex tax issues involved in this matter can be addressed in a meaningful manner and that they will be appropriately resolved.

Restitution should be considered.  There was a considerable cost to perform the investigation which went above and beyond Agent Palmisano’s time.  Then there was the cost of the trial, 8 days of having 14 jurors is over $4000 in daily juror fees alone.  Which hardly recompenses them for their lost income.  Then there’s the cost of operating the court, and the cost of prosecution.