Before Pittman, P.j., Banks And Waller, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pittman, Presiding Justice
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/07/96
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. L. BRELAND HILBURN, JR.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 6/11/98
MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:
¶1. Brian and Sherri Blue, appellants herein, were each indicted for two counts of tax evasion in violation of Miss. Code Ann. § 27-3-79, by the grand jury of Hinds County during the September term of 1995. Both defendants, acting pro se, were found guilty on all counts in the circuit court of Hinds County, Mississippi following a six day trial before the Honorable L. Breland Hilburn. On October 7, 1995, the trial court imposed the following sentence:
COUNT I - FIVE years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. TWO years suspended THREE to serve.
COUNT II- FIVE years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. FIVE years suspended. FIVE years supervised probation. Sentence in Count II to run consecutive to the sentence in Count I. Defendant shall pay restitution in the amount of taxes owed in this cause to be paid over probationary period.
COUNT I - FIVE years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. FOUR years suspended. ONE to serve.
COUNT II -FIVE years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. FIVE years suspended. Sentence in Count II to run consecutive to the sentence in Count I. Defendant shall pay restitution in the amount of taxes owed in this cause to be paid over probationary period.
¶2. Following the trial court's denial of Motion for New Trial, defendants timely filed their notice of appeal.
¶3. The trial court allowed both defendants to post an appeal bond in the amount of $5,000 in order to prepare for their federal tax evasion trial. *fn1
¶4. The defendants in the lower court and the appellants herein are Dr. Brian L. Blue ("Dr. Blue") and his wife, Sherri. Dr. Blue is a chiropractor in Meridian, Mississippi, where he and Sherri have resided for approximately fifteen (15) years. Sherri serves as the office manager for the chiropractic clinic. In the late 1980's Dr. Blue had a series of audits by the IRS *fn2 as well as the Mississippi State Tax Commission the results of which were unfavorable causing the Blues to owe additional taxes. The Blues have failed to file or pay state income taxes since 1988. However, the only years involved in the trial below were 1990 and 1991.
¶5. The Mississippi State Tax Commission began a criminal investigation on February 17, 1993. Mr. Albert Rowell, a criminal investigator with the State Tax Commission, testified that during his first interview with Dr. Blue, Dr. Blue told him that "he had no tax liability because it was his understanding that the only taxes that were due were those from the manufactory [sic] of alcohol, tobacco, firearms; that he had no income from those sources; that he was not a citizen of the United States nor a resident of Mississippi, therefore, he could owe no state income tax." Mr. Rowell further testified that during this meeting, he asked Dr. Blue for records of his income at which time Dr. Blue said the records had been destroyed. Dr. Blue told Mr. Rowell that he burned all of his records in a bonfire on the day he "untaxed" himself.
¶6. Mr. Rowell first interviewed Sherri Blue on March 18, 1993. Sherri Blue said she wanted to talk about an organization called the Pilot Connection Society *fn3 which she and Dr. Blue joined in April of 1992. The Blues claim that it was the fault of the teachings of the Pilot Connection that caused them to be "in this trouble." Because of their involvement with the Pilot Connection, the Blues believed that the Internal Revenue Code which levies taxes was illegal, unenforceable, null and void.
¶7. Mr. Rowell subpoenaed the Blues' records from the banks. Mr. Rowell then agreed to back out of the case and give Dr. and Mrs. Blue an opportunity to prepare the returns and pay the tax. However, when there ...