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Creationist 'employed by God' charged with tax fraud
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 07/26/2006 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Insisting he is employed by God, a Florida evangelist who founded a creationist theme park faces tax-fraud charges.
Kent Hovind of Pensacola, known as “Dr. Dino,” declared at a hearing July 17 he does not recognize the government’s right to try him.
Hovind’s Creation Science Evangelism ministry in Pensacola includes Dinosaur Adventure Land, a museum and a science center, dedicated to debunking evolution. He has offered $250,000 reward to anyone offering sufficient proof of evolution.
The evangelist says he’s not a tax protester, asserting he has no income or property because everything belongs to God.
At a hearing July 17 facing 58 counts of tax fraud, Hovind stated he does not believe the United States, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office “have jurisdiction in this matter,” the Pensacola News Journal reported.
Hovind entered a not guilty plea, “under duress,” after first entering a plea of “subornation of false muster.”
The evangelist’s wife, Joe, who is charged with 44 counts, also pleaded not guilty. A trial is set for Sept. 5.
Asked by the judge where he lived, Kent Hovind replied, “I live in the church of Jesus Christ, which is located all over the world. I have no residence,” according to the Pensacola paper.
His describes his home adjacent to Dinosaur Adventure Land as a “church parish.”
Hovind is accused of failing to pay $473,818 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for his workers between March 31, 2001, and Jan. 31, 2004.
The indictment alleges Hovind paid his employees in cash and called them “missionaries” to avoid paying payroll and FICA taxes.
In one of many lawsuits he has filed, Hovind complained in 2002 he feared “Gestapo actions of the Internal Revenue Service agents against him.”
Hovind said Dinosaur Adventure Land continues to operate, with 1,000 visitors in the previous week. His science building and museum were closed earlier this year by county officials, however, because he failed to get a building permit.
Hovind insists he is not violating any laws, Agape Press reported.
“Nobody’s an employee, and they all know that when they come. They come, they work,” he explained. “The laborer is worthy of his hire – we try to take the purely scriptural approach. We do the best we can with helping people with their family needs. There are no employees here.”
Hovind said he does not “own anything in the world” but has “dedicated everything to the Lord’s work.”
“I’ve taken a vow of poverty, which any minister can do,” he said. “And everything I have here, everything I’ve ever earned in my life, has gone straight into God’s work. So we’re not breaking any laws. We haven’t done anything wrong.”
Two years ago, Agape Press noted, IRS agents raided Hovind’s home and Dinosaur Adventure Land to confiscate records.
In his current situation he is accusing federal agents of “grand jury shopping,” pointing out three previous grand juries failed to indict him.
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