Only months away from being released to a halfway house after nearly eight years in prison, the popular creation-science lecturer and theme-park creator known as Dr. Dino is facing new charges in his tax-related case.
A federal court Monday in Pensacola, Florida, scheduled a trial to begin Dec. 1 for Kent Hovind, founder of Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adventure Land, on mail-fraud charges in connection with court filings on land seized by the federal government in his case.
As WND reported, Hovind was sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2007 after he was convicted of 12 tax offenses, one count of obstructing federal agents and 45 counts of structuring cash transactions.
Hovind contends the original charges were based largely on the Internal Revenue Service’s misinterpretation of his tax obligations as a minister of the gospel who had taken a vow of poverty and, therefore, owed no income tax. He and his wife, Jo Hovind, who spent one year in federal prison, paid employees in cash without filing payroll tax returns, designating them as “missionaries.” Although Kent Hovind, an avid blogger, has made statements challenging the authority of the federal government to collect income taxes, he has insisted he has never been “anti-tax or a tax protester,” has advocated obeying the government and “always paid every tax I owe.”
The new indictment also names his current chief legal adviser, John Paul Hansen of Omaha, Nebraska, as a defendant. Hansen has declared himself a “free inhabitant” or “sovereign citizen” who does not recognize U.S. sovereignty. He pays no income or property tax and drives a car without owning a driver’s license.
The new charges center on Hovind’s and Hansen’s attempts to regain Creation Science Evangelism property seized by the federal government in fulfillment of the jury’s $480,400 judgment. They are charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. and obtain money and property by false pretenses through the mail.
A tax expert who writes regularly for Forbes.com, Peter J. Reilly, has said that while he doesn’t share the belief of some that Hovind was targeted by the IRS because of the effectiveness of his creation science ministry, the latest criminal charge “really strikes me as piling it on.”
The indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida recounted the sequence of events leading to the charges.
After the jury in November 2006 unanimously issued a judgment of $480,400, the federal government filed a notice of pending action against the ministry’s property and its bank accounts. The federal court in Pensacola in July 2009 authorized the government to seize the cash and property, and the property was sold in July 2011.
The same month, according to the indictment, Hansen caused liens to be filed on nine of the seized properties. In July 2012, the court ruled in favor of the federal government and held that Hansen’s liens were null and void.
Then, in May 2013, Hovind filed a claim against federal officials in federal court in South Carolina. Later that month, he notified an agent of the federal government by mail that he intended to file liens on four of the properties the district court previously ordered forfeited. On May 29, 2013, he filed the liens.
Hovind had scheduled to be transferred to home confinement Feb. 11, 2015, where he would serve the final six months of his sentence.
Questioning government’s judgment
Reilly, in a new column for Forbes.com, said that while he thinks Kent Hovind’s troubles “are pretty much of his own making,” he “questions the judgment of the government in going after Kent for making one more stupid filing.”
“Frankly, if I was on the jury, they might have a hard time getting a conviction. There is stupid and stubborn and there is criminal. Plenty of tax related crime to fight elsewhere. If Hovind is convicted, he will seem like a martyr. If he is acquitted, it will look like a victory for tax defiers.”
Kent Hovind’s son, Eric Hovind, who now directs a ministry in Pensacola with the same mission of his father’s Creation Science Evangelism, contends the government misrepresented his parents in the 2006 trial, portraying them as anti-government radicals.
“If there is one thing I can say about my dad, it is that he is a man of principle, and it is an honor for me to support him as he goes through these trials,” Eric Hovind told WND Monday.
Eric Hovind is founder and president of Pensacola-based Creation Today, which describes itself as an “international Christian-apologetics ministry desiring to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.”
Kent Hovind established Creation Science Evangelism in 1989 with the aim of presenting the Christian message through evidence for divine creation. In 2001, he opened the dinosaur theme park behind his home, which depicted humans and dinosaurs co-existing.
Dinosaur Adventure Land, however, was among the nine properties seized by the government in a forfeiture judgment.
Hovind has been place in Santa Rosa County Jail in Milton, Florida, near Pensacola, for the trial after being incarcerated at various federal penitentiaries.
As WND reported in 2009, Hovind has argued he took a vow of poverty as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and, therefore, owns nothing and receives no income. All of his needs were taken care of by the ministry, he insisted.
He said he understood that as a registered 508 non-profit organization, he was not required to withhold taxes, leaving IRS obligations with each worker. In November 2006, however, Hovind was convicted of failing to collect and pay $470,000 in withholding taxes, obstructing tax laws, structuring transactions totaling $430,500 to avoid financial reporting laws, filing a frivolous lawsuit against the IRS, filing an injunction against an IRS agent and threatening investigators and others who cooperated with the investigation.
The “structuring” charges are based on application of laws designed to expose money-laundering by drug traffickers, which require banks to fill out a transaction report if any customer deposits or withdraws more than $10,000 in one day.
Hovind contends he abandoned any practice he discovered was legally questionable. But in the early morning hours of July 13, 2006, about 20 armed government agents arrived on ministry property without notice to arrest the Hovinds.
As WND reported in January 2012, Hovind has made numerous appeals in federal court, including claims that he was not given due process and that his case record does not contain a warrant “supported by Oath or affirmation,” as required by the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.
Eric Hovind has explained to WND that his father sent numerous letters to the IRS, asking exactly which laws apply to a 508 (c) (1) (a) church ministry, but he received no response. During the trial the special agent in charge of the investigation, Scott Schneider, acknowledged he never sent Kent Hovind any copies of the law or citations to specific laws in the tax code.