Green case headed to jury

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A verdict could come as early as today in the trial of Idaho Rep. John Green, who is accused by the federal government of tax evasion.

Lawyers rested their case Tuesday in the trial that started last week in Dallas. Closing arguments are scheduled this morning in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, where a jury is expected to begin deliberating today, according to a court spokesperson.

Green, who was indicted in 2018 in Texas for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges against him.

In a counter motion filed Monday, U.S. attorneys refuted a claim by Green that he should have access to a witness, Spokane attorney and former tax preparer Don Gary, who allegedly spoke with prosecutors about a tax return he had filed for Green.

Green asked the court to compel testimony from Gary, who invoked his right against self-incrimination to prevent testifying on Green’s behalf. According to court records, Gary filed an amended tax return for Green and co-defendants Thomas and Michelle Selgas.

Government attorneys argued that Gary could invoke his privilege because no law bars him from it.

“... A witness called to testify may invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege despite the fact that he waived his Fifth Amendment privilege on an earlier occasion,” prosecutors wrote.

Green, of Rathdrum, is in his first term representing District 2 House seat B. He is also a Kootenai County sheriff’s candidate and an attorney licensed to practice in Texas.

Green has in the past accused the federal government of targeting him because he has litigated many tax cases involving the Internal Revenue Service.

“They don’t like it when you stand up to them,” Green said last year. “I’ve said this before. The IRS is a criminal organization...They don’t care about the law. They do what they want to do.”

The Selgases, clients of Green, have been charged separately with tax evasion.

“The allegations are all absolutely false,” Green said last spring.

The parties are accused of defrauding the U.S. government by hiding money from the IRS in a bank account used by Green to hold money in trust for his clients. Green is accused of maintaining several lawyer-client accounts as part of the alleged tax evasion scheme and of filing false tax returns. If found guilty, he and the co-defendants could face five-year prison terms.

The Selgases, who used gold coins in their business dealings, are accused of trying to thwart the government’s attempts to collect taxes by questioning their U.S. citizenship and the legitimacy of their Social Security numbers. Their tax debt was close to $980,000 last year, according to prosecutors.

Green hasn’t voluntarily filed a tax return since 2000, according to court records, and he allegedly paid the Selgases’ personal expenses from his trust account to mask their financial transactions.

Tim Kastning of Rathdrum was sworn in last week in Boise to temporarily fill in for Green during the legislative session. Kastning, the retired owner of Grace Tree Service, is a former aide to Congressman Russ Fulcher.

After lawyers rested their cases Tuesday, they worked with the judge on the jury instructions for the rest of the day, according to the court. The instructions will be given to the jury following today’s closing arguments.

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