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Moses Lake Tax Evader Can't Evade Prison Time

A Moses Lake insurance agent and financial advisor has lost his fight to overturn his conviction for tax evasion. 51-year old J. Scott Vrieling was convicted in 2012 by a Spokane federal court jury for failing to file federal income taxes for 2004 through 2007.

When he was sentenced to two years in prison last year, the judge also told Vrieling to ante up more than 939-thousand dollars in unpaid taxes, a fine of 100-thousand dollars, more than 14-thousand dollars for the cost of his prosecution and an unspecified penalty assessment of 100 dollars.

In denying his appeal, federal appeals court judges noted that for a year leading up to his trial, Vrieling had consistently said he was diligently trying to find a lawyer to represent him, but was secretly following advice to delay the trial. An exasperated trial judge in Spokane finally concluded Vrieling was not entitled to a lawyer because of his stalling tactics. Only after he was convicted did Vrieling hire a lawyer who unsuccessfully demanded a new trial.

An Internal Revenue Service agent who investigated the case said "There are people out there who willfully defy the tax laws based on false ideas and beliefs."

Vrieling was one of hundreds of people who filed a court case during the Bush administration trying to prove that income tax laws are unconstitutional. The case was filed by a group called We The People Foundation. The group was sued seven years ago by the Department of Justice for marketing a nationwide tax fraud scheme called the Tax Termination Package.