N.H. couple skip court, ask, ‘What’s the point?’

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – A Plainfield couple who insisted on representing themselves in a federal tax evasion and fraud trial have given up on the proceedings.

Ed and Elaine Brown failed to show for their trial Friday at the U.S. District courthouse in Concord. They had been due to present their defense in the trial that began Jan. 9.

The Browns haven’t paid federal income taxes since 1996 because they don’t think the law requires them to pay. The government says the Browns owe more than $625,000.

They are charged with conspiring to commit tax fraud, conspiring to disguise large financial transactions and disguising large financial transactions. Elaine Brown, a Lebanon dentist, also is charged with evading income taxes and failing to withhold taxes from her employees. If convicted, they each face decades in prison and could lose their home.

In a phone interview, Ed Brown told the Concord Monitor he is disappointed by Judge Steven McAuliffe’s handling of the case, describing the trial as a “kangaroo court.”

“What’s the point?”, he said. “You saw what happened.”

McAuliffe had said he would allow the Browns to explain their unusual legal views, but Thursday made clear he would not allow the couple to try to persuade the jury that those theories are true. McAuliffe declined to allow the Browns to present documents they believe support their position. Brown had had been trying to prove the Internal Revenue Service has no jurisdiction in New Hampshire.

“You’re entitled to your view, but that’s not the law,” McAuliffe said.

The trial was suspended until Tuesday. The Browns will not be penalized if they return to court. If they do not, the judge could allow the trial to continue in their absence.

Ed Brown told the Monitor he would be willing to pay the owed taxes in exchange for ending the trial.

“I am willing to pay the full amount of the money if they would just go away,” he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Morse said that he was not aware of any negotiations.



Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.cmonitor.com

AP-ES-01-13-07 1256EST

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