This post is part of a series discussing IRS criminal investigations in general and possible outcomes. It must be emphasized that particulars to Ronald Weinland’s case are speculative. The existence of the IRS criminal investigation does not mean that Weinland is guilty of any crime — that can only be determined in a court of law. However, it must be recognized that Weinland exists within a unique group. According to this excerpt from some training material:
The Government does not detect most tax crimes; perhaps more counter-intuitive, the Government does not prosecute most tax crimes it detects. The Government has a limited budget for investigating and prosecuting tax crimes. Throughout the United States, in any given year, on average less than 4,000 tax crimes will be prosecuted. Many of these tax crimes are prosecuted as adjuncts to prosecutions for other offenses (such as drug offenses or money laundering). So, there will be less (significantly less) than 2,000 pure tax prosecutions a year.
Once IRS Criminal Investigation accept a case for someone suspected of tax evasion, the investigation will be focused to prove the three elements necessary for a criminal conviction (IRM 126.96.36.199.2.2):
- tax deficiency (has to owe taxes),
- affirmative actions of evasion (did something to evade paying taxes), and
- willfulness (knew what was being done was illegal).
Weinland's Motion to Quash
Some investigations are conducted using grand juries which can issue subpoenas. The alternative is an administrative investigation which is conducted by an IRS special agent. This appears to be the case here as evidenced by the administrative summonses issued for Weinland’s financial records which Weinland moved to quash (PDF files). The advantage of an administrative investigation for the IRS is that the evidence produced can be used in assessing civil penalties while evidence produced by a grand jury cannot be used for that purpose. The disadvantage is that administrative summonses are not automatically enforced as are subpoenas.
There are various methods of proof including looking at the investigation target’s assets and expenditures as compared to reported income. In addition to administrative summonses to obtain financial records, IRS CI can use other standard investigative techniques such as surveillance and interviewing witnesses. According to an IRS Special Agent: “This pursuit has involved questioning witnesses at all levels of society, examining offshore records, conducting search warrants, performing surveillances, analyzing tax returns and bank records, traveling to foreign countries, reconstructing shredded documents, and conducting trash runs.”
IRS criminal investigations are typically quite lengthy. The average is 412 days or about 14 months. But this average length would include the easy cases where the target folds or makes damning admissions when confronted by the IRS. Since Weinland has lawyered up, I suspect the investigation will take longer, perhaps two years. Someone convicted of a criminal tax violation wrote: “It was 3 ½ years from my first meeting with CID to the day I was sentenced.” (Hmm, a 3 ½ year period — sounds familiar.)
There are statutes of limitations for various tax code violations which set a time limit after which legal proceedings in court can no longer be initiated. A three-year limitation applies for some offenses and for others six years, which is the case for tax evasion. The statute of limitations clock begins on the latter of the required filing date (typically April 15) or the actual filing date if later than that. The clock restarts if an amended return is filed later. A 3-year statute of limitations for tax year 2004 had already expired before the investigation started, so it must be for a crime with a 6-year statute of limitations such as tax evasion.
The statute of limitations tor tax evasion for the tax year 2004 expires no sooner than 6 years after the April 15, 2005 filing date or in April of 2011. However, the statute of limitations clock stops ticking for Ron whenever he is out of the country. As much as Ron travels overseas it could be late in 2011 before an indictment would be needed to beat the statute of limitation. And should Weinland flee prosecution, the clock stops ticking until he is captured. Once a complaint is filed with the court, the statute of limitations is extended at least 9 months past the date of filing. Conceivably, the trial might not start before Weinland is not killed in the streets of Jerusalem and not resurrected at Christ’s return on Pentecost of 2012.
Based on Weinland’s statements in his sermon of July 5, 2008 about spiritual battles and Satan lashing back along with the issue dates marked on the summonses beginning the following week, I suspect that the investigation began in May or June of last year and that the IRS confronted him during the week following his “50th Truth” sermon of June 28, 2008. With a two-year estimate for the investigation, the IRS Special Agent would write up a report about a year from now. Several months would be spent reviewing the case within the IRS including reviews by the Special Agent’s supervisor and IRS Tax Counsel. An additional review will take place because Weinland is a member of the clergy. During the IRS internal review, the taxpayer may be offered a conference to indicate why he should not be prosecuted. I hope this would not happen, as I personally view Weinland as a flight risk. He could flee to Germany or another foreign country as he’s suggested. Or he could have one of his deluded followers in North America hide him out.
After the IRS review, the case is referred to the Department of Justice’s Criminal Tax division for review. After DoJ Criminal Tax reviews the case and accepts it, it is referred to the US Attorney in the federal court district where the prosecution would take place (probably the Eastern District of Kentucky). Should the US Attorney decide to prosecute, then a grand jury must return an indictment for a felony charge before a trial can proceed.
Typically a trial is conducted with a jury as a trier of fact which must return a unanimous decision for a conviction.
Should a conviction be obtained, then a sentence must be determined. The penalty for each violation can be as high as 5 years plus a fine of $100,000. Since each tax year is considered a separate violation, Weinland’s sentence if convicted could be as high as 20 years plus a fine of $400,000, and he also would be expected to pay the costs of prosecution. Since Weinland has no prior felony conviction as far as I know, his sentence could be a fraction of that depending on how much tax was actually evaded. Under the sentencing guidelines, he could be sentenced to between 21 and 27 months if the amount of tax evaded is $80,000.
Here’s a possible speculated timeline (but not a prophetic one) for the investigation of Ronald Weinland:
- January, 2008: A civil tax audit of Weinland’s 2006 taxes begins. This audit finds irregularities and is expanded to include tax years beginning with 2004 and eventually a referral to IRS CI is made.
- May, 2008: IRS Criminal Investigation accepts the case for investigation.
- June 30, 2008: IRS CI confronts Weinland, enjoining the spiritual battle.
- July 5, 2008: Weinland speaks of Satan lashing out, and great spiritual battles.
- July 8-21, 2008: Twelve administrative summonses are issued to third parties for Ron’s, Laura’s, and The Church of God Inc’s financial records.
- July 29, 2008: Weinland files a motion to quash the administrative summonses.
- September 2008: The motion to quash is settled. The IRS agrees to drop their request for financial records for transactions after 2007, and Weinland agrees to withdraw his motion to quash the summonses.
- Summer, 2010: The investigation is concluded and IRS CI generates a case report. This report undergoes a review within the IRS.
- Fall, 2010: After the IRS’s internal review, Weinland’s case is referred for prosecution to the DoJ Criminal Tax division.
- Winter, 2010-11: Criminal Tax refers the case to James Zerhusen, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
- Spring, 2011: An indictment is obtained. Weinland is arrested and arraigned. The prosecutor persuades the judge that Weinland is a flight risk and he is required to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet as a condition of granting bail.
- Fall, 2011: Weinland goes on trial. COG-PKG members pack the courtroom. Weinland’s attempt to delay the procedings by taking a page from HWA’s 1979 playbook and holding religious services in the courtroom are not tolerated by the judge. Weinland’s Witness Powers are ineffective against the prosecution witnesses who leave the courtroom un-singed and with their insides intact. Weinland is convicted and sentenced.
- Winter, 2011: Weinland delivers his last sermon before reporting to prison. He comes up with a new prophetic scenario to allow him to resume operations after his sentence is over. While Ron is in prison, Laura Weinland exercises her office as Prophetess over the church. Ron gives her instructions during prison visits to be relayed to Johnny Harrell, Wayne Matthews, and Terry Wrozek who are to deliver the sermons in rotation so that no one person can take over the church.
- May 23, 2012: Weinland is not killed in the streets of Jerusalem
- May 27, 2012: Christ does not return.
- Winter,2013: Weinland completes serving his sentence, and comes up with the next prophetic timeline featuring himself and the Mrs. prominently as the Two Witnesses.
Again, it should be emphasized that this discussion is speculative. (The only dates for events and non-events mentioned of which I am certain are July through September 2008 and May 2012) The case could be dropped at numerous stages along the way: internally by the IRS or within the DoJ including by the US attorney. Should the US Attorney decide to prosecute, an indictment must be issued by a grand jury. All this before even going to trial, at which a jury must unanimously determine his guilt.
At a criminal trial Weinland enjoys a presumption of innocence when it comes to being found legally guilty. A jury must be unanimously convinced of his guilt. With the evidence I’ve seen (actually none) I would have to find Ron legally “not guilty” were I a juror on his case. (But I would prefer the terminology “not proven guilty”.) Then again, there would be quite a bit of evidence I’ve not seen were the case to actually be brought to trial.
Since I’m an interested observer rather than a juror, I can say that I see it as entirely plausible that he is guilty. I base this on various statements by Weinland himself including the admitted existence of a Swiss bank account (even though that in itself is not illegal) and his co-mingling of personal and church expenses on his credit card. I also consider it plausible based on his arrogance when confronted with the $381,000 cost of his mansion — “I could have spent more”.
I just hope for the benefit of potential followers that if Weinland is guilty he will be convicted and receive a lengthy sentence. As far as his current followers, they will rally around him as Armstrong’s followers did during the 1979 receivership crisis with WCG. I imagine they would pack the courtroom and glare at any witness the government puts up to testify against him. At one time, I hoped the court would not impose a fine on Weinland, as it would ultimately be paid by his followers. But in reconsidering, I think that would be a better place for their money than to finance the next version of his prophetic delusions and suck in yet more followers.
Ron wouldn’t be breathing any fire on the prosecutors or their witnesses despite their efforts to injure the end-time Witness of Revelation 11. Just as I still have not yet died speedily from the inside to fulfill the curse he placed on me back in December.