In his first public statement since being arrested, anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce on Monday denied evading taxes or being guilty of any of the crimes he’s accused of in a state grand jury indictment.
The indictment, handed down April 8, charged Bruce with tax evasion, filing a false tax return, attempting to influence a public official, and not filing tax returns in 2006 and 2007.
“False, frivolous and phony,” Bruce said of the charges
“There’s only one plea when you’re innocent, which is not guilty. I did nothing wrong,” said Bruce, after appearing Monday morning in Denver District Court to be advised of his rights by a judge.
Bruce contended that the charges are politically motivated, and said the proof is the press release issued by Attorney General John Suthers.
“It’s just another in a long line of political harassment publicity stunts,” the author of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights said. “They got their headlines, and they’re going to be humiliated when I am exonerated.”
Suthers’ spokesman Mike Saccone said the indictment had nothing to do with politics.
“Politics played no role in this. We treated this like any other that comes through our criminal section,” said Saccone. “This case came to us like any other tax fraud or tax evasion case. The Department of Revenue investigated it both civilly and criminally and passed it along to us. We put this before the statewide grand jury and they handed down the indictment.”
Saccone pointed to another recent indictment of another El Paso County resident, Jack Wharton Thomas, who was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced in January to 45 days in jail and 10 years on probation. Suthers’ office issued a press release in that case as well, Saccone noted.
Bruce declined to answer whether he had hired a lawyer. Saccone said Bruce appeared in court Monday without one.
The indictment against Bruce alleges that he earned $178,000 in interest from loans he made to a charity he founded and controlled, Active Citizens Together. According to the document, Bruce loaned more than $2 million to ACT, and did not disclose the interest from the donations to either the Internal Revenue Service or the Colorado Department of Revenue.
The most serious charge in the indictment, which could cost him six years in jail and a $500,000 fine, is attempting to influence a public official, a Class 4 felony. The indictment says that in 2009, Bruce attempted to “defraud and influence” Department of Revenue Executive Director Roxy Huber and possibly her staff in responding to a request for documents pertaining to his 2005 tax return. The indictment did not specify how Bruce attempted to influence Huber.
Bruce is also charged with not paying taxes on $80,000 in income he made in 2006 and 2007, and with not filing tax returns for those years. He has additionally been charged with filing a false tax return in 2005 for under-reporting his taxable income by $27,000.
Bruce’s next court hearing is scheduled for June 3.
Contact the writer 476-4825.