A Belleville man has been convicted in federal court on four counts of filing false income tax returns.
Destry Marcotte, 47, was found guilty following a two-day bench trial, U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Marcotte was taken into custody and will be held without bond until sentencing which is expected in January. He could receive up to 20 years behind bars.
According to evidence presented at trial, Marcotte had filed several false returns over recent years that claimed refunds totaling more than $600,000. He claimed that he was a "sovereign citizen" and was therefore not subject to U.S. tax laws.
In addition to filing false claims for federal income tax refunds, Marcotte did not pay federal income taxes due, according to Wigginton. At trial, evidence was presented that showed Marcotte was advised that his claims and arguments were frivolous and could subject him to criminal prosecution. But Marcotte disregarded the advice and filed the returns anyway.
Sovereign citizens are people who reject the authority of the U.S. government and claim that they are, essentially, not a citizen of any country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation considers members of the sovereign citizens movement to be domestic terrorists. Members of the loosely-associated group have been accused of killing and attempting to kidnap police officers across the country. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are more than 100,000 sovereign citizen movement members across the country.