Crime - Sacto 911

Federal jury convicts Chico business owner of retaliatory tax dodge

The owner of a Chico florist business has been found guilty of trying to dodge taxes and retaliating by filing false liens against federal officers.

After a four-day trial, a federal jury in Sacramento today convicted James O. Molen, 70, of two counts of filing false liens against federal officers, two counts of contempt and one count of interference with the administration of tax laws, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to evidence presented at trial, Molen ran Touch of Class Florist in Chico, and beginning in 2000, he stopped withholding and paying federal employment and unemployment taxes. After years of collection efforts by the IRS, Molen filed false liens in 2004 against people who had been involved in his case: two federal judges, the United States Attorney, two civil Department of Justice attorneys, an IRS revenue officer and a witness. The liens claimed collateral of more than $93 billion.

After a 2007 court order prohibited him from filing more false liens against federal officers, Molen in 2010 filed false liens against two revenue officers assigned to collect his taxes, claiming more than $199,000 in collateral. Authorities said Molen ignored several court orders, sent a bogus tax payment to the IRS that he called an “International Bill of Exchange,” and sought to frustrate collections by placing his residence and bank accounts in trusts.

Molen is to be sentenced Aug. 21 by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, who presided over the trial.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.