Conspiracy Planet – John Turner
At approximately 2 p.m. on the 14th floor of the Federal Court Building in Sacramento, California, Joe Banister supporters got word that the judge had received a note from the jury and quickly moved from the hallway into the courtroom. He announced that the jury had reached a unanimous decision.
The verdicts were read by the clerk of the court with Judge William Shubb presiding: “Not Guilty”, “Not Guilty”, “Not Guilty”, “Not Guilty”. Carol Delaney, assistant prosecutor in the case, was not in attendance at the verdict.
Very telling at that moment was the absence of the many IRS employees that had been in attendance during the trial.
In victory, Joe Banister, honorable and unpretentious man that he is, walked over to the government’s side and shook the hands of the two IRS CID special agents who had investigated him, as well as the government’s lead attorney, Mr. Twiss. Also very telling, Sean Breslin, the special agent in charge, stood looking at Joe with a big smile and tears in his eyes.
The trial began on Tuesday, June 14. The charges were
1) Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and
2) Aiding and Abetting in the Preparation of False and Fraudulent Returns.
The government alleged that Banister had impeded and impaired the ascertainment, assessment, and collection of tax, and that he had criminally conspired with Al Thompson in so doing.
The charges were related to Joe’s association with Redding businessman, Walter “Al” Thompson, where Joe, as a CPA, prepared amended Form 1040X tax returns for three tax years. The returns were a calculated protest and every effort was made by Al and Joe to adhere to written and verbal guidance they sought and received from the IRS.
Key evidence in the trial were two video tapes. The first tape was about 2 hours in length had been filmed at Cencal Aviation, the business of Walter “Al” Thompson, in July of 2000.
Mr. Thompson had researched the law and concluded that he was not an “employer” as defined within Title 26, the income tax code, nor was he required to withhold money from the paychecks of those who worked for him. He called this meeting so as to inform his 25 employees of this decision to stop withholding from their paychecks, and invited Joe Banister, former IRS CID special agent, to assist him in communicating to the employees.
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