It may take a while, but the taxman always cometh.
An Oregon computer consultant who owned millions of dollars worth of property and businesses has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison after a complex and decades-long effort to avoid paying his taxes.
Robert Andrew Lund, 63, of Lebanon, Ore., had gone to such lengths to hide his income from his computer company, rental properties, health food store, bookstore and scuba diving business, that he even collected food stamps and Medicaid benefits, prosecutors said.
Lund, who worked at Hewlett Packard in the 1970s and later built a successful computer programming consultancy, pleaded guilty in July to charges of tax evasion, failure to file personal income taxes and stealing government benefits. He was sentenced this week to 41 months in federal prison.
A message left with Lund’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.
“‘[Lund] claimed he wasn’t a U.S. citizen and that the IRS had no authority over him — language consistent with the sovereign citizens movement. ‘”
Lund’s tax evasion odyssey dates back to the mid-1990s, when he was convicted of illegally structuring his computer consultancy through a trust in an effort to avoid paying the IRS, and was ordered to pay $444,000 in back taxes.
Instead of paying what he owed, Lund appealed the ruling and simply stopped filing taxes altogether, prosecutors said. He then engaged in a long-running letter writing campaign with the IRS in which he claimed he wasn’t a U.S. citizen and that the tax agency had no authority over him — language consistent with the sovereign citizens movement.
Members of the movement deny the legitimacy of the U.S. government and often refuse to pay taxes and gum up the legal system through endless and obstructive court filings. During this time, Lund had retained a tax protester attorney who was later convicted of tax evasion and disbarred.
Prosecutors say Lund also moved many of his assets — including his computer business, a 90-acre compound with a seven-bedroom house and airstrip, the former city hall and post office buildings in Albany, Ore., and a trailer park he owned — into multiple layers of corporate entities controlled by others, including his father.
In the meantime, as Lund lost his appeals on his tax judgment, he tried to file for bankruptcy several times and applied for and received tens of thousands of dollars in food stamps and Medicaid benefits.
On one food stamp application, Lund claimed he was a party-time handyman who made just $810 a month. Prosecutors said while this occurred, Lund really owned property and businesses worth millions.
While he stalled on paying what he owed in taxes, prosecutors say the bill rose steadily with penalties and interest to $1.7 million. As part of his guilty plea, Lund has agreed to pay that figure to the IRS and Oregon state officials for the fraudulent benefits he received.
In court filings, Lund’s attorney said his client acknowledged that he had followed bad tax and legal advice from people aligned with the sovereign movement. He said in recent years, he had become a naturopath and was committed to helping people.
Dozens of letters written to the judge asking for leniency described Lund as a man of God who was a great spiritual advisor to many and a loving grandfather.