Kodiak man convicted of tax fraud

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Richard R. Blankenship was convicted by a federal jury of tax fraud.

After less than a day of deliberations, the jury found the Kodiak man guilty Thursday on six counts of failing to file a tax return, four counts of mailing threatening letters to several people including state judges, and attempting to cash a phony draft.

Blankenship, 50, made enough money to pay taxes, but he hadn't filed tax returns since 1994, according to the indictment. He also sued state judges after he was arrested for drunken driving and driving with a suspended license, claiming the judges owed him $20.8 million. He also threatened to send the Internal Revenue Service after the judges, calling them ''tax fugitives,'' prosecutors said during opening statements.

During the trial, Blankenship refused to ask government witnesses questions, only speaking to correct people on his name. He tested the patience of U.S. District Judge John Sedwick by trying to bring witnesses to testify on how the English language is ''fictitious.'' Sedwick ruled that Blankenship's witnesses were irrelevant to the case.

Blankenship's sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 21. He faces one year in prison and a $100,000 fine for each count of failing to file taxes, two years in prison and a $250,000 fine for mailing threatening communications, and a maximum sentence of 25 years and a $250,000 fine for trying to cash a false draft.

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