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United States v. Weber

February 17, 1971


Hastings, Senior Circuit Judge, and Cummings and Pell, Circuit Judges.

Author: Cummings

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

In July 1964, defendant pled guilty to a three-count indictment charging him with filing fraudulent income tax returns in 1958, 1959, and 1960, in violation of 26 U.S.C. ยง 7201. In August 1964, he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine on each count, together with costs. The imposition of any sentence of imprisonment was suspended, and he was placed on probation for three years. In addition to compliance with the usual conditions of probation, the district court imposed the following:

"Probationer is to pay court costs in the amount of $35.00 and a total fine of $15,000.00 (fined $5,000 on Count I, $5,000 on Count II and $5,000 on Count III) within 60 days. Payments are to be made by certified check or money order, payable to William J. Littell, Clerk, U.S. District Court, Federal Building, Springfield, Illinois.

"Probationer is to make settlement in full with the Internal Revenue Service for taxes owed for the calendar years 1958 through 1960, inclusive, including any legal penalties and interest, within the probation period. Probationer has the full right without any prejudice to this judgment entered to fully and completely and without restriction contest any tax and defend against any taxes that may be improperly taxed against him."

Defendant ultimately paid the fines and court costs. At the suggestion of the probation officer, the probationary period was extended until August 25, 1969, in order to give defendant additional time in which to settle his tax liabilities, which had been assessed in the amount of $176,703.46 for the period in question.

On August 14, 1969, the probation officer reported to the district court that defendant

"has filed an alleged false [$10,000] offer in compromise on his tax liabilities in that: he filed a false Statement of Financial Condition; he has failed to cooperate with Internal Revenue Agents in their attempts to ascertain whether he has secreted assets. The Collection Division of Internal Revenue ascertained that Weber rented three safety deposit boxes, and subsequently that Division seized them on April 14, 1969. Since then the Collection Division has attempted to obtain voluntary permission from Weber to inventory the seized safety deposit boxes, which permission has not been obtained."*fn1

Accordingly, the probation officer requested that an arrest warrant be issued and defendant brought before the court to show why his probation should not be revoked. Subsequently, the district court held three days of hearings, at which defendant refused to testify, culminating in a February 3, 1970, general finding that defendant had violated the terms and conditions of his probation order. Thereupon the court imposed concurrent sentences of eighteen months' imprisonment on each of the three counts.

Three days thereafter, defendant's counsel requested the court to find the facts specially, pursuant to Rule 23(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. On February 11, 1970, the notice of appeal was filed, and six days thereafter, the district court entered an order that a hearing for revocation of probation does not fall within contemplation of said Rule and denied the motion for special findings of facts.

Defendant first argues that settlement of tax liabilities for the three years covered by the indictment is not a legitimate condition of probation. In United States v. Steiner, 239 F.2d 660, 661 (7th Cir. 1957), we held that the probationer who had accepted probation on condition that he make every effort to pay his tax liability to the United States without challenging that condition on direct appeal was foreclosed from attacking the condition on his subsequent appeal from the order revoking probation. Even apart from any such foreclosure, however, we cannot accept this defendant's challenge to the tax settlement condition of his probation.

The applicable statute provides in part:

"Upon entering a judgment of conviction of any offense not punishable by death or life imprisonment, any court having jurisdiction to try offenses against the United States when satisfied that the ends of justice and the best interest of the public as well as the defendant will be served thereby, may suspend the imposition or execution of sentence and place the ...

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