Kent Hovind Frequently Asked Questions

Version 0.3. Last updated on February 8, 2015

Prepared by Dee Holmes
mirele at sonic dot net

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  • Who is Kent Hovind?

See Wikipedia for a background on Kent Hovind as well as a brief explanation of his legal travails.

(For a snarkier look at Kent Hovind, see the RationalWiki article on him. This provoked Kent to sue the RationalMedia Foundation. The suit is in some sort of limbo at present.)

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  • Why is Kent Hovind in prison?

He was convicted of 12 counts of tax evasion for failing to withhold income and Social Security taxes from his employees, 45 counts of structuring, and one count of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service. He was sentenced to 120 months in prison.

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  • Why is Kent Hovind facing a new trial?

The 2015 case is actually an outgrowth of the original case. On November 2, 2006, Kent Hovind was found guilty of 12 counts of tax evasion, 45 counts of structuring (also known as “smurfing”) and one count of obstructing the IRS. As part of his sentence, Hovind forfeited $430,400 for the structuring.

It became clear that the Hovinds did not have the cash to pay the $430,400 forfeiture, so the U.S. government asked for an order to seize real property owned by the Hovinds (as detailed in the U.S.’s motion for summary judgment dated 10/31/2008). Judge M. Casey Rodgers issued the requested order on July 29, 2009 allowing the U.S. to seize 11 properties owned by the Hovinds (either directly or via “trusts” set up by Glen Stoll, as detailed in that order) and sell them to make up the $430,400 forfeiture.  Judge Rodgers noted that the value of the land forfeited exceeded the amount owed by the Hovinds, and also ordered that the land be sold piecemeal only up to the amount owed, and then the rest of the land and any proceeds remaining should be returned to the Hovinds.

Thus, eleven properties were forfeited to the government. At that point, Kent Hovind and his friends (including Paul John Hansen, the other defendant in the current case) began filing liens against the properties in the records of the Escambia County Clerk in order to cloud the title and prevent the sale of the properties. As a result, the government sought and received an order on June 28, 2012, enjoining Creation Science Evangelism and the trusts which had owned the properties forfeited from filing liens on the property:

3. Defendants are hereby permanently enjoined from interfering with the rights of the United States of America in and to the property described above in any manner including fling or attempting to file liens, claims or other encumbrances in any manner whatsoever without a prior order of this court. Defendants are also enjoined from filing or attempting to file, directly or through the services of others, new notices of lien, indebtedness, claims or purported liens, of whatever nature, with the Clerk of Court in and for Escambia County, Florida, on any property forfeited to the United States.

Despite this order, Kent Hovind caused lis pendens to be filed against four properties on May 29, 2013.  At the time, Hovind was incarcerated in New Hampshire and presumably the lis pendens were transmitted to someone else, who filed them with the Escambia County Clerk. On October 2, 2013, Judge Rodgers issued an order that the lis pendens were to be dissolved and her order was to be appended to the properties in the county records.  Additionally, the government was ordered to show cause as to why Hovind should not be held liable for criminal or civil contempt.  This is the basis of the current action, which was changed from a criminal contempt case to the current charges of mail fraud in 2014.

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  • Is Kent Hovind being religiously persecuted for his young earth creationism beliefs?

No. To quote Judge M. Casey Rodgers, who heard the 2006 case and will hear the 2015 case, from Hovind’s sentencing (pages 105-106):

All right. Let me make a few things clear before I impose sentence in the case. First, I want you all to understand and be clear on the fact that this case is not and has never been about religion. It was Mr. Hovind, not the government, who injected religion into this case during this trial.

Also, Fundamentalist Baptists such as Bekah Horton, the namesake of Christian homeschooling book publisher A Beka Book, took the stand in 2006 and testified against him.

Finally, young earth creationists such as Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and Eric Hovind (Kent’s son) of Creation Today are not in prison for their beliefs. This is not about Kent Hovind’s religious beliefs.

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  • Is Judge Rodgers biased against Christians?

No. The alleged anti-Christian bias from Judge Rodgers comes from her handling of a case entitled Does v. School Board For Santa Rosa County, Florida (link is to the amended consent decree from 2011.  It should be noted that the school district originally entered into a negotiated consent decree without a trial in 2008. In 2009, there were reports the consent decree was violated and there were some court hearings to determine if school officials had violated its terms, which resulted in the above-linked consent decree.  No trial was ever held.

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  • Is it true that the prosecutor at the 2006 trial was a child molester?

No. The assistant U.S. attorney on the case was Michelle Heldmyer. She tried the case in front of the jury.  She argued at the sentencing. The alleged rapist was assistant U.S. attorney J.D. Roy Atchison. He filed exactly two documents in the case, numbers 209 (6/26/2007) and 211 (6/28/2007) on the docket of the Kent and Jo Hovind trial, which can be found here:  http://www.hovindology.com/?page_id=4 . Number 211 was a withdrawal of number 209. So Atchison’s involvement in the 2006 Hovind case was virtually nil. On top of that,Atchison wasn’t arrested until September 16, 2007, which is months after Kent went to prison. (Atchison committed suicide on October 5, 2007, obviously before he could be tried.)

  • Is it true that assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer’s husband was involved in a porn ring in 1994?

Ms. Heldmyer was cleared of all charges with regards to this incident involving her husband. See:  http://www.dol.gov/ecab/decisions/1998/Jul/96-2291.htm

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  • I heard Kent Hovind’s case was presented to three grand juries before an indictment was handed down.

Hovind was under investigation by the IRS long before his home and place of employment were raided in April 2004. He and his wife were indicted in July 2006. It should be noted that grand jury terms are for 18 months. It is entirely possible that multiple grand juries could have sat during the investigation period. Additionally, it would be a breach of grand jury secrecy and a violation of the law for there to be a leak about how many grand juries had heard the Hovind case. Michelle Heldmyer said at Hovind’s sentencing that the first grand jury to whom the case was presented indicted Kent Hovind.

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  • Is Kent Hovind a tax protester?

Yes.  See the following examples:

Agent M.C. Powe testified in 2006 that after she seized vehicles from Kent Hovind in 1996 to make up a tax arrearage for the years 1989-1994, she was sued at least three times by Hovind. (See trial transcript volume 2 for Powe’s testimony.)

Daniel Nelson, a former employee of Creation Science Evangelism, also testified that Joe Sweet taped a video at CSE about taxes (trial transcript, volume 3, pages 78 ff).  Nelson testified (with sidebars omitted):

Q. At some point in time, prior to January of 1998, did you attend a videotaping event?
A. Prior to ’98?
Q. Prior to 1998. Let me throw out a name and see if this means anything to you. Joe Sweet.
A. Yes, I know Joe Sweet.
Q. Did Joe Sweet give any talks or lectures at CSE?
A. Yes.
Q. What was the subject matter of his talks or lectures?
A. I think it was Good News, was the title of the speech.
Q. What was the subject matter?
A. Taxes. (page 78)

(skipping to page 80)

Q. Mr. Nelson, we were talking about this tape recording of Joe Sweet. Do you have an approximate time frame for this particular tape recording?
A. No. You threw me off when you said it was prior to ’98,because I don’t remember it being before I even came there.
Q. You don’t remember one way or another?
A. No.
Q. All right. Tell me about the circumstances — before you tell me about what Mr. Sweet was saying, tell me about the circumstances surrounding the taping, who was there, who was doing the taping, where was it.
A. It was on the gazebo at the headquarters. Mr. Sweet wanted a video copy. We had the equipment to be able to do that for him, and Mr. Hovind offered to allow the recording to happen so that he could have it for his own ministry. Several of — friends and family and stuff like that were invited, just so that there would be an audience for audience shots.
Q. Who actually did the videotaping?
A. I don’t know
Q. Was Mr. Hovind in attendance?
A. I don’t know the answer to that.
Q. How about Mrs. Hovind?
A. I believe Mrs. Hovind was there.
Q. And you were there?
A. I was there.
Q. Any of the other people who worked there at CSE?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Do you know how big an audience there was?
A. I would doubt that it was probably more than 10, 12 people.

(page 84)

Q. Thank you for your patience, Mr. Nelson. I was asking about generally the subject matter of the lecture that Mr. Sweet gave that was recorded.
A. It was about taxes.
Q. And what position was Mr. Sweet taking on taxes?
A. That it was not necessary to pay them.

In 2002, the United States got an injunction against Joe Sweet which states the following:

4. Both EDM and Sweet (either individually or doing business thorugh any entity) and their representatives, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and others acting in concert with any of the, are immediately and permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly:

(a) Organizing, promoting, marketing, or selling the tax shelter, plan or arrangement entitled “GOOD NEWS for FORM 1040 Filers:  Your Compliance is Strictly Voluntary! BAD NEWS for the IRS! Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the Income Tax That the IRS Is Afraid You’ll Find Out” or any other abusive tax shelter, plan, or arrangement that incites taxpayers to attempt to violate the internal revenue laws of the United States or unlawfully evade the assessment or collection of federal tax liability; [emphasis added]

Also, Joe Sweet is currently a guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2010 for (as the appellate opinion put it):

conspiracy to defraud the United States by advocating the intentional disruption of the assessment, ascertainment and collection of federal income tax, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Defendant Sweet was also convicted of corrupt interference with internal revenue laws, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a), and two counts of criminal contempt, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401(3).

The evidence is quite clear that Kent Hovind is a tax protester and sovereign citizen. He believes he does not have to pay any taxes, nor does he believe he has to obtain any building permits. (See Pensapedia for a long fight Hovind had with the city of Pensacola over a permit for Dinosaur Adventure Land.)

In 2008, another tax protester, Lindsey Springer, was involved in collecting affidavits for the Hovind case. Springer is currently serving a sentence until 2023 for tax-related crimes.

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  • Is Kent Hovind a sovereign citizen?

In 1998, both Kent and Jo Hovind signed a sovereign citizen style document attempting to revoke their signatures and claimed (as in original):  “I/WE ARE NOT A U.S. CITIZEN, NOT RESIDING ON ANY FEDERAL TERRITORY,” which is standard sovereign citizen lingo.  Another Sovereign citizen “tell” are the references to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). In the 1998 document, Hovind references UCC sections 2-608, 1-103, and 1-207.

In 2006, Kent Hovind attempted to enter a plea of “subornation of false muster” (meaning “being ordered to say you showed up at roll call when you weren’t actually there”). When pressed by the magistrate judge Miles Davis, Hovind entered a not guilty plea “under duress.”

In 2015, Kent Hovind supporters alleged that a particular document would be filed in his current case. An examination of the document found that it consisted of sovereign citizen arguments, including portions of  a notice of appearance from Terry Trussell’s case and parts of a “Quo Warranto” from the sovereign citizens group “National Liberty Alliance.”  This document has never been filed in the current case.  Kent’s very good friend Ernest Laind said in a radio interview that he’s familiar with the National Liberty Alliance’s Quo Warranto but they have: “backed off a great deal. They were helping me at one point and then I think once Terry [Trussell] got arrested on frivolous charges down there in the leadership role, they kind of backed away from us. Probably because they’re fighting the battle in other areas. I don’t know why. I just know that they broke off communication on Kent Hovind. But ultimately the goal is Free Kent.” (at 31:30)

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  • Is it true that you have to withdraw $10,000 to violate the structuring laws?

No. Quoting directly from the instructions given to the jury by Judge Rodgers, as found in trial transcript volume 9, pages 140-143 (bolding added):

Counts 13 through 57 of the indictment charge defendant Kent E. Hovind and Jo D. Hovind with evading a currency transaction reporting requirement. Title 31 of the United States Code, Section 2324(a)3 makes it a federal crime or offense for anyone under certain circumstances to knowingly and purposefully evade a currency transaction reporting requirement.

With respect to currency transaction reporting requirements, Title 31, United States Code, Section 5313(a) and the regulations of the Treasury Department under that section require domestic financial institutions and banks with certain stated exceptions that are not relevant here in this case to file reports with the government, called currency transaction reports, Form 4789, disclosing all deposits, withdrawals, transfers or payments involving more than $10,000 in cash or currency.

The defendants can be found guilty of this offense or offenses, Counts 13 through 57, only if all of the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt: First, that the defendants had knowledge of the currency transaction reporting requirements; second, that with such knowledge the defendants knowingly structured or assisted in structuring a currency transaction; and third, that the defendant’s purpose in structuring the transaction was to evade the transaction reporting requirements; and fourth, that the structured transaction involved one or more domestic financial institutions. To structure a transaction means to deposit or withdraw or otherwise participate in a transfer of a total of more than $10,000 in cash or currency by or through a financial institution or bank by setting up or arranging a series of separate transactions, each involving $10,000 or less individually, thereby, intentionally evading the currency reporting requirement that would have applied if the transaction had not been so structured. The transaction or transactions need not exceed the $10,000 reporting threshold at any single financial institution on any single day in order to constitute structuring within the meaning of this definition.

Knowledge as it is used in these counts does not require that the government prove that the defendant knew that the action taken was illegal. The government must prove, however, that the act was done with the intent to evade the reporting requirements.

Counts 13 through 57 charge the defendants Kent E. Hovind and Jo D. Hovind with aiding and abetting the unlawful structuring of financial transactions in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. The guilt of a defendant in a criminal case may be proved without evidence that the defendant personally did every act involved in the commission of the crime charged. The law recognizes that ordinarily anything a person can do for ones self may also be accomplished through the direction of another person as an agent or by acting together or under the direction of another person or persons in a joint effort. So if the acts or conduct of an agent or employee or other associate of the defendants are willfully directed or authorized by the defendant or if the defendant aids and abets another person by willfully joining together with that person in the commission of a crime, then the law holds the defendant responsible for the conduct of that other person just as though the defendant or person engaged in such conduct. However, before any defendant can be held criminally responsible for the conduct of others, it is necessary that the defendant willfully associate in some way with the crime and willfully participated in it. Mere presence at the scene of a crime and even knowledge that a crime is being committed are not sufficient to establish that a defendant either directed or aided and abetted the crime. You must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was a willful participant and not merely a knowing spectator.

The word willfully as that term is used in this instruction means that the act was committed voluntarily and purposefully with the specific intent to do something that the law forbids, that is, with bad purpose to either disobey or disregard the law.

  • Did Kent Hovind threaten IRS agents?

Testimony in the 2006 case showed that Hovind sued agent Powe at least three times, and he also sued Special Agent Schneider a number of times. After his conviction, Hovind told a caller the following regarding Schneider:

11/16/06 3:02 PM [00:45]

Unk:  (?doing a) good job.

Kent:  I think there’s real close to a zero chance they’re going to come seize anything.

Unk:  Really?

Kent:  That’s what all the attorneys say too.  They could, there’s zero chance that they could do it legally.

Unk:  Oh, yeah.

Kent:  Can they do it actually?  Well, look at what they’ve done so far.  But obviously, yeah.  About the only thing we’ve got going for us is that Scott Schneider, who is a bit afraid that I will sue him.

Unk:  Well…

Kent:  And I will!

Unk:  Amen!

Kent:  I’ll do it again! [chuckles]

Unk:  [laughs]

Kent:  And the rest of his life, if he doesn’t start obeying the law, I’m going to haunt him the rest of his life.

Unk:  I hope you do.

Kent:  Just keep, he needs to obey the law. He’s got a badge. OK. So what? You know..

Unk:  [Unintelligible]

Kent:  Obey the law then.

Unk:  [Unintelligible]

Kent:  I don’t want to fight these guys. I don’t want to fight ‘em.

Unk:  [Unintelligible]

Kent:  They won’t leave me alone. What can I do? [01:27]

This can be found on the following YouTube video “Kent Hovind – County Jail Telephone Calls” from 00:45 to 01:27.

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  • Did Judge Rodgers really say that Kent Hovind’s crimes were “worse than rape?”

It’s not in the sentencing transcript.  At the beginning of February, 2015, Hovind’s supporters provided affidavits from five people alleging the statements were made.  All of these statements were executed in April 2008 in front of the same notary public. Moreover, one of the statements comes from Jo Hovind, Kent’s wife, who was convicted with Kent in the 2006 trial, and from Kent A. Hovind, Kent Hovind’s son.

There is also an e-mail from Greg Dixon in the affidavits file, indicating the affidavits were being specifically collected and were to be sent to a Lindsey Springer. That would be the same tax evader Lindsey Springer who is currently in prison until 2023.

  • Is it true Kent Hovind’s 2006 structuring charges arise out of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act?

No. Structuring is a crime under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). This Act is the basis for the requirement that domestic (i.e., U.S.) financial institutions are to file a currency transaction report or CTR on suspicious transactions. Kent and Jo Hovind were indicted for structuring under the BSA.  The RICO Act was not part of the Hovinds’ indictment.

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  • What does Eric Hovind think of his father’s tax problems?

EricHovindDadsTaxProbs

Eric says:  “Has my dad made the wisest choices? No. But was he targeted specifically for his stance on taxes?  Was it because he was serving God? Was it because he was a Creationist? Well, I’m a Creationist. That wasn’t the intention of the targeting. Well, he was publicly out there saying ‘taxes are voluntary.’ Ultimately, yeah. They’ll target anybody for that, and I have no problem with that.  He was not martyred for the sake of Christ. This isn’t over the Gospel or over the sake of preaching the Gospel….Was the Gospel affected? Of course.”

Eric’s remarks can be seen at about 21 minutes into this video:

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version 0.3 (February 8, 2015) – Added three questions (Why is Kent Hovind facing a new trial? What does Eric Hovind think of his father’s actions? and Is it true Kent Hovind’s 2006 structuring charges arise out of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act?)
version 0.2 (February 7, 2015) – Added text anchors, updated structuring question with Judge Rodgers’ jury instruction from the trial transcript.
version 0.1 (February 4, 2015) – Original version

© 2015 Deana M. Holmes