Jury acquits pilot, who questioned IRS, of tax-evasion counts
August 9, 2003
A federal jury Friday found FedEx pilot Vernice Kuglin not guilty of evading income taxes on $920,000.
The question of tax payment was unresolved at the end of the five-day trial.
"I feel justified," a grinning Kuglin said after the verdict was returned at midafternoon. She stood outside the federal building, chatting with supporters and jurors.
Federal prosecutor Joe Murphy was not available for comment.
Kuglin, 58, was charged with six counts of tax evasion that could have meant up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
The government accused Kuglin of filing false W4 forms for the period from 1996 to 2001.
Kuglin, a pilot for FedEx since 1985, said she had paid taxes like anyone else for most of her life. But about 10 or 11 years ago, she began to question the federal tax system. She began to read court documents, legal opinions and the federal tax code.
She said she found what she felt were contradictions. She wanted to know where in the federal tax code it said she was liable for taxes.
Kuglin wrote the Internal Revenue Service twice in 1995 with questions but said she didn't get a response.
Murphy, in closing arguments on Thursday, said Kuglin did have an opportunity to discuss her situation with the IRS, to learn what she owed and what documents she was required to file "and she didn't."
Defense attorney Larry Becraft of Huntsville, Ala., said Kuglin decided mandatory payment of income taxes "did not apply to her."
After the verdict Friday, Becraft said the federal tax code is a confusing conglomeration that "at best is a walking due process violation."
He said the average American simply doesn't understand the tax code.
Juror Barbara Snodgras of Memphis said the jury did not convict because "we all felt that the prosecution didn't prove its case."
When asked if she planned to start paying federal income taxes again,
Kuglin replied: "I will pay all the taxes for which I am liable."
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