Four charged in bizarre plot to halt tax evader's trial

Authorities say North Oaks millionaire, supporters planned to 'arrest' judge

Pioneer Press, Minnesota/July 16, 2008

The plan was to show up in a federal court with more than 30 people, each with a warrant for the judge's arrest.

If she didn't dismiss the charges against Robert Beale, a North Oaks millionaire who faced federal charges of tax evasion and conspiracy, his supporters intended to arrest her based on rules of their "common law court."

"God wants me to do this," Beale said of his April plan in a jailhouse phone call that was recorded by investigators.

"I want her to be intimidated," he said in a later call, referring to the judge.

Beale, 65, and three other Twin Cities men are now accused of conspiring to threaten and intimidate a federal judge, with the intent of preventing her from "discharging her official duties," according to a criminal complaint.

Beale's alleged co-conspirators are Frederick Bond, 62, of Champlin; John Pelton, 67, of Stillwater; and Norman Pool, 43, of Blaine.

Each was charged Monday with one count of conspiracy to impede an officer and one count of obstruction of justice. Pelton is a retired St. Paul police officer.

The four are a part of a group that operates a common law court that falls under the jurisdiction of "Almighty Yahweh," according to the indictment.

Plans to intimidate and ultimately arrest the judge began before March and led up to Beale's scheduled April 21 court appearance, the indictment said.

Beale's April court appearance stemmed from charges filed against him more than two years ago. In January 2006,

he was indicted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and five counts of tax evasion, for allegedly failing to pay personal income tax on more than $5.6 million. He was accused of owing more than $1.6 million in back taxes and penalties.

He failed to appear for an August 2006 hearing and was arrested more than 14 months later in Florida. He was taken to the Sherburne County jail in December 2007 to await trial.

In the meantime, he and his supporters exchanged phone calls in which they detailed their plans to derail his pending trial in Minneapolis.

The group issued "purported" warrants for the arrest of U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery, who was assigned to preside over Beale's criminal trial, as well as other Sherburne County sheriff's office and jail officials. They issued "false and fraudulent liens" and planned to disrupt court proceedings, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday.

They also presented a subpoena to a Hennepin County sheriff's office sergeant, demanding that Montgomery appear before their common law court April 15. Montgomery did not attend.

"If my plans work out on April 21 (the scheduled start of his trial), it will be a tremendous blessing," Beale told his common-law wife in a call from jail. "(God) wants me to destroy the judge. That judge is evil. He wants me to get rid of her."

Despite the group's attempts, Beale's trial was held, with Montgomery presiding. He was found guilty April 30 of all seven charges he faced for allegedly evading taxes, conspiracy and failing to appear in court.

Beale is in custody awaiting sentencing and could not be reached for comment. He has represented himself in the past, and it is not clear whether he has an attorney.

He was formerly the chief executive of Comtrol Corp., a Maple Grove computer parts company now under new ownership.

His legal wife, Rebecca, filed for divorce last year.

Attorneys for Bond and Pool did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Frederick Goetz, attorney for Pelton, said, "the evidence will show that (Pelton) did not attempt to intimidate anyone, perpetuate any act of violence against anybody or obstruct any ongoing criminal prosecution.

"As far as he believed, to his core, all of the activities he engaged in were lawful and peaceful."

The three were arrested April 19 but later released. If convicted, the defendants face up to six years in prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years for the obstruction charge.

Other members of the common law group say they aren't the religious nuts the authorities make them out to be.

"There are some of us there that have our religion, we have our beliefs. ... (But) I'm about as religious as a hog," said Mark Fedor, a member of the Common Law Venue, which is connected to but operates separately from the common law court.

"One of our guys got a little free-handed, and the FBI sucked that up and that's their mantra right there."

He said the charges against Beale, Bond, Pelton and Pool are "hearsay."

"For the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they did very little investigating. They did wiretapping, did rereading of something somebody else had done," Fedor said. "They have a lot of good words, and it sounds good on paper and, boy, it's going to impress a judge, but all they have right is the names and the dates."

An FBI spokesman on Tuesday declined to comment.

Corporate Law Venue holds monthly meetings that are "informational" only, its members say. Some of them also take part in the common law court, which they say is modeled on the true intent of the Constitution.

There were 12 people at the group's meeting Tuesday night at the American Wings Air Museum in Blaine.

Attendees stressed they never intended to physically apprehend the judge, but expected authorities would carry out their arrest warrant. They wanted Montgomery to attend their common law court to answer questions, they said, because they believe she was acting illegally.

Jessica Huang contributed to this report. This report contains information from the Associated Press.


Robert Bonine Beale, 65, of North Oaks, is the former CEO of Comtrol Corp., a computer parts company based in Maple Grove. Here is a timeline of his federal tax evasion and conspiracy case:

2003 - State tax collectors seize Beale's North Oaks house and two Audi automobiles because he didn't pay capital gains tax on the sale of his interest in a television station. He says he's worth $20 million.

January 2006 - Charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and five counts of tax evasion for allegedly failing to pay personal income tax on more than $5.6 million.

Aug. 14, 2006 - Fails to appear in federal court for trial. Warrant issued for his arrest.

November 2007 - Arrested in Florida after 14 months on the run; he'd been living as "Bob Johnson." IRS says he owes more than $1.5 million in back taxes, plus interest and penalties.

April 19, 2008 - Two days before his trial is scheduled to begin, Beale's alleged co-conspirators in a plot to intimidate the judge are arrested and later released.

April 30, 2008 - Beale is found guilty on seven charges.

July 14, 2008 - Beale and alleged co-conspirators indicted in federal court on charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

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