In catching up with recent cases, I came across today United States v. Wood, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 12984 (10th Cir. 6/24/10) (Unpublished) where the defendant, Mr. Wood, did claim that§ 7212 as interpreted was vague, echoing the claims made in Skilling. The Tenth Circuit rejected the claim (and his other claims), fairly summarily, and did not even believe the resolution was worthy of being published. Focusing on the vagueness claim, the Tenth Circuit just said other courts rejected the claim and it agreed. The key parts of its slim analysis are:
The government charged Mr. Wood with deceptive techniques including using domestic non-interest-bearing bank accounts under his signature, offshore credit card accounts, and nominee entities to hide income and assets from the IRS. The jury found that Mr. Wood's actions were intended to obstruct or impede the administration of the tax code with the intent to gain an unlawful benefit, and § 7212(a) gives a reasonable person clear notice that these actions are prohibited. We conclude that § 7212(a) is not vague as applied to the particular conduct alleged in this case.I nit-pick here, because this quote evidences a problem with a court that has not thought through the implications of what it says cryptically as the basis for a holding (not uncommon in unpublished opinions designed to resolve the case in hand but avoid the precedential effect in future cases). In the quoted portion, the Tenth Circuit says that the Government charged tax obstruction, in part, because Mr. Wood used “domestic non-interest-bearing bank accounts under his signature.” Although that is all the Tenth Circuit tells us in this critical part of its reasoning, the facts it recites earlier in the opinion show that Mr. Wood did something materially more than just create a non-interest bearing account. The cryptic analysis refers to domestic accounts (plural), but the rest of the opinion mentions only one domestic account. The account in question was an account not in Mr. Wood’s name and created and styled in the name of a Foundation for the benefit of others (“The Family Foundation”). Mr. Wood appears to have had only signatory authority and actually used the account to shuffle money overseas rather than the purposes for which the account was established.