The similarities are amazing. T. Milton Street was charged with mail and wire fraud along with failure to file tax returns. Just like in the Snipes trial – all the government got was a conviction for failure to file tax returns. The jury acquitted Street of mail- and wire-fraud offenses in an alleged scheme to sell an airport-maintenance contract they did not control.
“No corruption, no fraud. No corruption, no fraud,” Street, 68, said outside the federal courthouse in Center City after the verdict. “Failure to file – that’s what we were found guilty of. But as long as there’s no corruption, no fraud, and no wrongdoing with this whole issue, then I’m happy.”
While innocent of the more serious charges, Street admitted on the stand that he did not file tax returns for 2002, 2003 and 2004, claiming the federal income tax was unconstitutional. The jury did not accept that argument, which the Supreme Court has ruled is no defense no matter how sincere the belief.
According the the White Collar Crime Prof Blog: “this case has similarities with the prosecution against Wesley Snipes in that both were charged and acquitted of substantive charges beyond the failure to file taxes. In both cases, the individuals accused of crimes was only found guilty of misdemeanor tax offenses for some of the years in question. And in both cases the jury did not immediately reach a verdict.”
Now the question for both Wesley Snipes and T. Milton Street is will the government impose jail time for the crime they are convicted of? As a white collar crime speaker, I think they will. This, however, is speculation on my part. It just makes sense that two popular cases where folks who have garnered some attention and been convicted will not escape some jail time. IF they do – what message will be sent to the public at large?
Remember, we operate on a system of voluntary compliance. If that system has no teeth – then people won’t be motivated to comply.
Your comments are welcome!
Business ethics speaker, Chuck Gallagher, signing off…more to come!