Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weinland Convicted Before the End of Times (6/17/12)

I have previously written on the prosecution of "doomsday prophet Ronald Weinland."  See blog posts on Weinland here.  The prophet Weinland was convicted on all counts of tax evasion, Section 7201.  See Jim Hannah, Doomsday prophet guilty of tax evasion ( 6/12/12), here.


1.  As reported (emphasis supplied):
Weinland’s defense attorneys told jurors during the eight-day trial that their client deposited church money in Swiss bank accounts because he believed society was in its “final days,” and that before Jesus Christ returns, the U.S. financial system would collapse. Weinland’s website claims the beginning of the end of earth as the human race knows it started on May 27 – just eight days before the start of the trial.
2.  Weinland was represented by Jone Cline, here, whose other "clients have included Oliver North and Scooter Libby."  For those unfamiliar with these other clients, see the Wikipedia entries on North, here, and on Libby, here.

3.  The article says:  "Weinland faces up to five years in prison when U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves sentences him on Sept. 24."  Actually, with five counts of conviction for tax evasion, the maximum sentence permissible is 25 years, but the Guidelines will be the principal determinant.

4.  The principal determinant in a Guidelines sentence for tax evasion is the criminal tax loss.  The taxes evaded as reported in the article from the criminal trial are $357,065.  However, at the sentencing phase, whether the burden of proof is lighter (preponderance (in some cases, perhaps, clear and convincing), as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt, the tax loss could conceivably be greater.  At $357,065, the Guidelines base offense level is 18.  Both of the specific offense characteristics (income from criminal activity (if his conduct is conceived as stealing from the contributors, the Church or from God) and sophisticated means) for up to 4 levels added.  Perhaps also perhaps 2 levels for abuse of position of trust (although this might duplicate the income from criminal activity adjustment if it is imposed).  The counts will be grouped, hence adding no levels.  Let's say that the combined offense level is 22 which would provide a Guidelines range of 41-51 months. Defendants in tax crimes cases are usually sentenced at the low end of the range, but I suspect that will not occur in this case.  In any event, the sentence likely will not exceed the 5 years mentioned in the article, unless the sentencing judge is moved to depart upward (rare in tax cases).

5.  Perhaps he can spread his ministry in and from prison.  Paul did that.

6.  Perhaps another biblical quote is apt (see Wikipedia here):  "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."


  1. Not to excuse what he did, but there are quite a few instances of both mainstream religions and "cults" which, instead of stashing money in a secret account, use church funds to purchase real estate to be used as a "spiritual retreat" or travel the world first-class, while spreading their views, all perfectly legal when done correctly.

  2. Stealing in moderation draws less attention than stealing in excess. The old bull, bear and pig thing. Mr. Weinland resembled the pig that gets slaughtered.

    Jack Townsend

  3. Weinland was sentenced a week ago. I was present at the sentencing hearing. Judge Reeves stayed within the sentencing guidelines for 18-levels based on a tax loss of $245,176, 2-levels for Obstruction of Justice (lying on the witness stand) and 2-levels for sophisticated means. Weinland was awarded a 42-month sentence along with restitution and fines. Details on my blog.

    Interestingly the sophisticated means enhancement was not for his Swiss bank account, which he mentioned to the IRS special agent at the initial interview. Nor did the failure to file FBARs on his account factor in sentencing. The sophisticated means enhancement was based on his setting up his church corporation with himself as the only officer, and at the same time preaching that his member's responsibility ended once they had paid their tithes.


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