Bill Sizemore pleads guilty, goes directly to jail

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Bill Sizemore pleads guilty, goes directly to jail

Bill Sizemore has pleaded guilty to three counts of tax evasion, and was sent immediately to Marion County jail for a 30-day sentence. He'll also serve three years of probation. His trial was expected to start next week.

From the O's Michelle Cole:

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger expressed little sympathy.

"Everybody has to pay their taxes," Kroger said. "There are no exceptions."

Sizemore and his wife, Cindy, were charged in 2009 with three counts of felony tax evasion after they failed to file state tax returns in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Each faced up to five years in prison for every count.

Sizemore, 60, had steadfastly argued that he would be vindicated by a jury.

Last October Cindy Sizemore pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of failing to file a personal income tax return in 2006 as part of a deal that kept her out of prison and off the witness stand in her husband's trial.

She agreed to 18 months of probation.

Our Oregon's Patrick Green had a reaction, over at the Sockeye:

“Bill Sizemore refused to file his taxes to hide the fact that he was moving hundreds of thousands of dollars into his own pockets and into his corrupt initiative campaigns,” said Patrick Green, executive director of initiative watchdog group Our Oregon. “It was a cynical shell game in order to fund initiatives that should never have made the ballot.”

“It’s great to see that the law has finally caught up with him,” Green added. “The question now is whether Sizemore will follow the law going forward. Given his track record of corrupting the law for his own benefit, we’re extremely doubtful.”

Wow. We've always known he was a shady character - from his pre-political business dealings to the funny stuff that kept happening with his initiative petitions. (That's why an early tagline for BlueOregon was "With one eye on my beer, and one eye on Bill Sizemore.")

But I never expected that he'd be so predictable as to be the anti-tax activist busted for evading paying his taxes.

Is it the end of an era?

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    Wow. What with the stock market collapse and all, I missed this.

    It's such a tawdry end for a man who once held so much power in the state. It's hard to recall when he was not only relevant but feared--and when he could dictate the course of politics by putting huge heaps of crap on the ballot. They were mostly losers, but it forced us to fight back.

    It's an appropriate end, though, because Sizemore always seemed more like a grifter than a serious ideologue. Ending up in the pokey for not paying his taxes--a classic mixture of hubris, short-sightedness, and blatant criminality that market his political career.

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    I fear he's still not done. The man's ego knows no bounds. He will put forth more measures in the future and we will end up having to spend more money to defeat them, I believe.

    Still, good to see him go to jail for a bit, anyway.

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      He's pretty much done.more from Loren Parks no longer being his sugar daddy than the law finally meting out a meager slice of justice.

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        I don't know. There's a redux of Measure 64--paycheck deductions--that has petitions being circulated right now. There's actually two out there and Sizemore is claiming authorship of one of them. 30 days? His political machine can keep working in his absence.

        Hope I'm wrong, I'd love to see him disappear entirely from the political landscape. But that type always seems to find a way. As for money, plenty of anti-union folks out there with deep pockets.

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    I think we're actually going to miss Bill Sizemore. After 10 years, his personal brand had become so poisonous, that if an initiative was backed by him or endorsed by him, it was just about guaranteed to ensure its defeat.

    Now we're going to have to deal with new cancers on the body politic. Except these metastasized versions will be unknown to the electorate, and so won't be as easy to combat as he eventually became.

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    End of an era? I doubt it. You take out one drug dealer, another will take their place. Also, consider Bob Tiernan. He was drummed out of the legislature (albeit, not under these circumstances) but he's back. They just go underground for awhile...

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      As a society, we give white collar criminals leniency we never consider for other crimes. You can rob a house of $1,000 of goods and spend years in jail, but steel $100,000 through fraud and get your wrist slapped.

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    The charges he faced were felonies -- did he plead guilty to a felony? Would that affect his political status or rights & privileges in Oregon?

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      From the O: "pleaded guilty late Thursday to felony tax evasion and immediately went to jail. "

      In Oregon, felons can't vote while incarcerated, but can after release. So there won't be an election he can't vote in.

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    To clarify, here's how the AG categorized that part of the deal:

    "Complete his three-year probationary term without any violations, in which case the Department of Justice will make a good faith consideration as to whether his convictions should be converted to misdemeanors. This is a routine provision in plea agreements offered to all eligible defendants."

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    I've gotten some emails from Sizemore supporters claiming that he didn't get convicted of tax evasion, merely failing to file a return.

    1) I don't know that that's a distinction that makes a difference, and 2) I'm relying on the Oregonian's reporting here. They said, "tax evasion".

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      Technically, ORS 314.075, the statute Sizemore violated, is captioned "Evading requirements of law prohibited" and is in Chapter 14 dealing with the income tax laws. It includes both failing to file a return and failing to pay.

      "Tax evasion" is a fair shorthand for this since if you don't file a tax return, how does the Department of Revenue know you paid all the taxes you owe?

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    Jack's Oregonian opinion today argues that Sizemore's crime did not warrant incarceration. I reluctantly agree. I do not necessarily agree it is a case of politicized prosecution, however. Prosecutors generally ask for too great penalties.

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