6 Linked to a Patriot Group Guilty in Banking and Tax Case

The Associated Press/June 9, 2002

Portland, Ore. -- A federal court jury has convicted six people of conspiracy for taking part in an illegal bank that hid $186 million from the Internal Revenue Service from 1986 to 2000.

The six people were part of a group called the Christian Patriot Association, based in Boring, Ore., southeast of Portland, which operated a storefront bank that hid the assets of 900 people.

Convicted on Friday were Richard Flowers, a founder of the group; his wife, Dorothy Flowers, who acted as a clerk and notary; the Rev. Jeffrey Weakley, a white separatist who worked for the bank; Ronald Stacey, who operated a gift store in Clackamas, Ore., and had money in the bank; and two bank members, Dan Romaine Kirkham, a California lawyer and doctor, and John Anderson, who operated commercial printing businesses in Oregon.

Richard Flowers was also found guilty of failing to file federal income tax returns for 1995 and 1996. Mr. Stacey and his wife, Elecia, were found guilty of tax evasion, as was Mr. Kirkham.

Lawyers for most of the defendants had argued that their clients made little or no effort to conceal their activities, were not liable for the tax debts that the I.R.S. claims and took part in no conspiracy to defraud the government. The lawyers said their clients were a mixture of ultraconservative Christians, sovereign citizens and dedicated students of the Constitution and the United States tax code.

Kristen Winemiller, who represented Richard Flowers, said earlier that members of the association think the nation should return to a currency system backed by gold and silver. The association also ran a gold and silver exchange.

Federal agents raided the group's headquarters in 1996, seizing documents that led investigators to bank accounts and names of client. But the bank continued to operate until the indictments in November 2000.

The defendants each face as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count of conspiracy and tax evasion.

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