The Kent Hovind Legal Case: What Barton & Wallbuilders Left Out

The April 29 Wallbuilders show featured an interview with Kent Hovind from jail. For those unfamiliar with this case, Hovind is a well known creationist and operated the Dinosaur Adventure Land and Creation Museum in Pensacola, FL. He was convicted in 2006 on charges related to nonpayment of taxes, money “structuring” and additional charges including threats against investigators in the case. His sentence is up this summer, but he has now been charged again, along with Paul John Hansen, on mail fraud charges. Just one “obstruction of justice” count stuck and sentencing for that is in June.

Hovind spoke to Wallbuilders to plead his innocence in all of the above. He has a huge following and has been portrayed as somewhat of a martyr, being unfairly prosecuted for his Christian creationist views. However, in looking over the case and everyone involved, it appears more likely that his lengthy jail time has more to do with the “sovereign citizen” tax protester movement and his refusal to comply with US law.

Barton said that they had never met Kent Hovind before and had not thoroughly researched his case before showtime, so they were cautious in their commentary. As his battles with the IRS have gone on for decades and are all over the internet, it is surprising that Wallbuilders was unfamiliar with any of this. However, their site did feature links to two of his supporter sites, which were also given out twice during the show. No site was suggested for research other than his supporter sites. Barton suggested that it sounded like “overcriminalization” from a zealous prosecutor, but the record of appeal found here explained all the reasoning for the length of the sentence and all appeals have been denied. The presentation by Hovind gave the impression that the case was all about “structuring”, which he denies doing, but court records show that this was not the only charge.

Properties were seized by the government towards the amount they felt he owed, and this is where his recent legal problems came into the picture. In jail, he met Paul John Hansen, who apparently advised him and helped him prepare a strategy to have a lien put on the property, hoping to keep it tied up so it could not be sold. This is a common tactic used by the “Common Law” tax protester movement, although often failing. Mail fraud was charged in relation to this move by Hovind.

Hovind has said many things that fall in line with the ideology of his advisors in this mess.  Examples:

Powe said she then received a letter from Hovind that stated: “… this summons indicates that you assume I am a ‘taxpayer’ per the IRS code.”

Hovind denied in the letter that he was a tax protester, saying instead he was a steward over the property of the Lord, she testified.In his bankruptcy forms, Hovind wrote that he had no form of income, that he rejected his Social Security number and that his employer was God, Beard testified.

To understand what he is saying here, it is helpful to take a look at two of his advisors in handling his tax issues, Paul John Hansen and Glen Stoll.

Paul John Hansen maintains a site full of his legal theories, although he is not a lawyer by US law. As he describes himself:

Paul John Hansen -Foremost I love the Lord, His written Word, and the Elect Family of God. -My income is primarily derived from rental properties, legal counsel fees, selling PowerPoint presentations. -I am a serious student of territorial specific law, and constitutional limitations of the US and STATE Governments. -I have been in court over 250 times. -I have received numerous death threats that appear as to come from NEBRASKA STATE agents. -I have been arrested an estimated 8 times. Always bogus false warrants, misdemeanor charges. (Mostly Municipal Housing Codes, or related acts.) -I file no Federal Income Taxes (1040 Form) since the year 2001. (No filings in any form.) -I pay no State income taxes. -I do not pay STATE sales tax on major purchases. -I pay no COUNTY property taxes with out a judicial challenge. ( I believe I have discovered a filing for record process that takes my land off the tax roles. ) -I currently use no State drivers license, carry no vehicle liability insurance, do not register my automobiles. -I do not register to vote for any representatives. -I am a ‘free inhabitant’ pursuant to Article 4 of The Articles of Confederation. (Not a US citizen.) -I am subject to the Church jurisdiction, and a strong advocate of full ecclesiastical independence from the United States jurisdiction. -I believe in full support of the perpetual Union as found in the Articles of Confederation. -I believe that a free inhabitant has the lawful standing to choose to live independent of the constitutional corporate US governments, and its statutory courts in the vast majority of his daily life, and to be forced to do otherwise is slavery. -I believe that most all US written law is constitutional, but most all of that same law is misapplied upon jurisdictions where it has no force and effect of law and the bar association has perfected a system of keeping the people from knowing its true application. Order my 5$ presentation ‘Free Inhabitant One A’, for the truth in limited jurisdiction of all US written law.

You can view one of the odd defenses of Hovind he came up with here. However, like many in this movement, he does not really recognize US law. On another site linking from his main site, he explains his suggested governmental system:

This confederation shall be styled as “Christendom States United of America”.

This confederation is a union of individual people located between Mexico and Canada in North America who have joined under the jurisdiction of the Church founded by Jesus the Christ.

This jurisdiction shall be governed by biblical sources found in the following:

1. Scripture only,

2. Faith only,

3. Christ only.

People who wish to join this confederation must submit themselves to the three above listed governance principals.

Land that may be of this confederacy shall be owned by the above people and registered in its jurisdiction.

Law of this land shall be common law, based on biblical principals, determined case by case, by a jury of twelve or more.

Courts of this jurisdiction shall be of respected men, no less than twenty years of age, each acting as a judge, with majority rule.

Police enforcement shall be by the whole community, and if needed, aided by contracted services.

Offices shall be created as needed.

Taxes shall be a duty only upon those that consent by written contract, and only limited to singular services as specified in each contract.

You can view his Powerpoint presentation on government structure here, and it will be very instructive to those unfamiliar with this movement.

He sounds like he was quite infamous in the Omaha community as a former slumlord, using his theories to justify avoiding property taxes and denying Omaha having any jurisdiction over him or his properties. Meanwhile, the costs of his cases have cost other taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars:

As a Citizen, capital C, of Nebraska, Omaha landlord Paul Hansen believes that neither the city nor Douglas County holds sway over him.

That’s why the 49-year-old owner of dilapidated rental housing refuses to pay property taxes on time, if at all, and never without protest. It’s why he generally doesn’t heed city code inspectors’ numerous requests about getting permits or fixing up his mostly inner-city properties.

The Douglas County Courthouse is a local government entity Hansen appears to recognize. Though no lawyer, Hansen is a student of the law who pulls out handwritten copies of the U.S. Constitution and, to challenge jurisdiction of local authorities, asks questions such as, “Where are we?” He contends that no government official has shown him how the city or county holds jurisdiction over his private property.

Thus he refers to himself in legal documents as “Paul John Hansen, common law Nebraska Citizen, Accused Citizen,” and sometimes underlines the capital “C” to emphasize his rights.

This approach has made him a minor, albeit notorious, celebrity at city hall, where everyone seems to know the polite, clean-cut contrarian who once tried to pay his taxes in pennies.

“There’s a lack of affordable housing because the government is so hard on people like me,” he said. “I can’t even afford to fix my homes up because they’re constantly attacking me.”

One former tenant didn’t think he was getting a deal at Hansen’s house at 3839 Decatur St.

Ted Harris said he rented the first floor of the 122-year-old home for about a year but finally moved because of crooked floors, a nonworking toilet and a front door without a lock. To keep it closed, Harris jammed a steak knife into the door frame and bent it over.

Harris said he painted walls, refinished wood floors and even cut the grass but got fed up with the property’s condition and stopped paying the $375 monthly rent. He eventually moved out.

It is unclear how Paul Hansen can justify many of his actions as biblical, but it does appear that he has justified it all to himself and his followers.

Another Hovind advisor was Glen Stoll, who took over ownership of the museum for a time during Hovind’s legal battles. Report from 2006:

While the building permit case was tied up in a four-year court battle, ownership of the theme park was turned over to Glen Stoll, who works with Hovind on legal issues and is based in Washington.

Last year, the U.S. attorney in Seattle filed a lawsuit against Stoll, charging him with encouraging people to avoid tax payments by claiming to be religious entities, according to news reports.

Glen Stoll has advised others similarly and was also involved with a group calling itself the Embassy of Heaven. This group considers themselves outside US jurisdiction and issues their own license plates, marriage licenses, passports and more. Needless to say, they have had plenty of run ins with the law, as illustrated here in one of their older newsletters:

We hop back inside and close the doors. I look in my rear view mirror and there is a gun pointing right at me! Whew! What happened to the simple police stop where the officer approaches the car and asks to see your driver license? It didn’t happen that way at all. They had guns trained on us immediately, before any dialog.

Glen says, “I’m not going anywhere.” He yells to them, “You put those guns down. We’re not coming out until you put the guns down.” The police are yelling back, “Come out with your hands up and nobody will get hurt.” More cop cars are arriving.

Many people would assume this to be very isolated, but this movement may be more widespread than you think. If you Google the phrase “sovereign citizen IRS”, you will discover a large number of sites on this topic, including many who sell courses to teach people how to try to get out of paying taxes, how to use liens to stop foreclosures, etc. Most of them quote Bible verses as if to feel they are completely justified in what they are doing, but if they are successful, who will pick up the tab?  All the rest of us, as people in Omaha already found out. Some of them, like Frederick Mann, have gained a reputation as being nothing short of Ponzi schemers. Recent examples of similar ideology were seen in this recent article on Article V promoter Roman Buhler and in a recent incident in Fredericksburg, Texas, as well as the incident in 2010 of the IRS building in Austin being hit with a plane:

In February 2010, after years of ranting about the illegitimacy of the Internal Revenue Service, a Texas sovereign citizen flew a private plane into an Austin Internal Revenue Service building, killing one tax collector and himself, injuring thirteen others.46

Conservative groups and conservative spokespeople would be wise to be alert to this movement and recognize it for what it is. Although these “sovereign citizens” are not necessarily conservative, which was clear in the Austin case above, they do see an opportunity for infiltration. Wallbuilders, after doing some post-interview research, will hopefully come to the same conclusion.

NOTE: An excellent description of this movement is available here from the UNC School of Government, and when reading it, many of the activities described above will be recognized.

4 responses to “The Kent Hovind Legal Case: What Barton & Wallbuilders Left Out

  1. While these are extreme ways to deal with a completely illegal taxing of the American people, income and property, I do wish there was a more reasonable way to deal with the rape and carnage the IRS and county treats us subjects. You never truly “own” your own land, that’s why when is pay my property “taxes” I always put in large letters on my check LEIN ON HOME. Don’t believe me, try not paying them. I totally understand this movement, but a reasonable taxation has left the building. And as usual, scripture is taken out of context, and cherry picked and twisted. Sigh…..


  2. Truth Prevailing

    Yes, certainly we all understand that we are in dire need of tax reform, but this is not the way to do it, that’s for sure.


  3. If we had good tax reforms, this behavior will die off.


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