A man who claimed to be the governor of Alabama in its “original jurisdiction” has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for tax fraud.
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Monty Ervin and Patricia Ervin, owners of Southern Realty in Dothan, Ala., were sentenced Tuesday for conspiring to defraud the United States and tax evasion. After a two-week trial that began Oct. 25, 2011, a federal jury in Montgomery, Ala., convicted the Ervins of one count of conspiracy and three counts of tax evasion. The jury also convicted Patricia Ervin of one count of structuring transactions to avoid bank reporting requirements.
Monty Ervin, 61, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, while Patricia Ervin was sentenced to five years of probation, with the condition that she spend 40 consecutive weekends in jail. In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson ordered the Ervins to pay $1,436,508 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.
In sentencing the Ervins, the court found that Monty Ervin was the leader and organizer of the conspiracy and exercised control over his ex-wife Patricia.
According to prosecutors, the Ervins amassed hundreds of investment properties over the last decade, receiving more than $9 million in rental income. Despite receiving this income, the couple paid no federal income taxes. When confronted by the IRS in 2006, the Ervins proclaimed that they were not United States citizens, and as “sovereigns,” did not consider themselves subject to federal or state law.
The evidence established that Monty Ervin and Patricia Ervin also filed numerous documents in probate court renouncing their U.S. citizenship. In one such filing, Monty Ervin declared himself the “governor” of Alabama in its “original jurisdiction.” The Ervins had a license plate on their vehicle which law enforcement witnesses testified at trial was associated with a “sovereign citizens” organization.
The couple concealed their assets in the property management company from the IRS by placing their investment properties under the names of nominees, referred to as “trustees.” The “trustees” named on property deeds testified that they were not involved in the sale or purchase of the properties and that the Ervins “stamped” their signatures onto official property records.
Patricia Ervin also structured deposits into Southern Realty’s bank account in an effort to evade federal currency reporting requirements.
In addition to hundreds of real estate investment properties, the evidence also showed that the Ervins had amassed beachfront condominium units in their own names, including a $1.3 million unit they paid for in cash. When they were investigated by the IRS, they allegedly transferred those properties into the names of bogus “trusts” and “trustees.” In addition, the government introduced into evidence $350,000 of gold coins said to have been buried in their yard.
The Ervins were indicted by a federal grand jury in Montgomery in February 2011. In March, Monty Ervin was arrested by a U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force in Naples, Fla., with a notebook containing the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of an island off the coast of Honduras.