OREGON CITY, Ore., July 9 (UPI) -- An Oregon software entrepreneur has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison after years of refusing to pay income taxes, prosecutors said.
Chester Evan Davis, 56, of Oregon City, founded ESA International, a software company that primarily does business through federal contracts. Davis, who argued his religious beliefs preclude him from paying taxes, owes $7.1 million in back taxes and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie Beckerman said.
Davis refused to represent himself in the case but also refused to assist his court-appointed attorney in his own defense. Davis instructed his lawyer not to make an opening statement or cross-examine any witnesses during his trial.
He was convicted of tax evasion in March.
The (Portland) Oregonian said Davis told U.S. District Judge Michael Simon paying income taxes to the federal government represented a violation of the gifts God has given him.
Filing a tax return would "put the God of this state above my God," Davis said while making an emotional appeal at his sentencing Monday. "I won't do it."
"My hands, my feet, my words, my ideas, my labor, my actions are all and have been given to the Lord for his glory," he said.
The IRS has seized $1 million in gold bars Davis bought as a means to avoid paying taxes. Another $4 million in gold has yet to be located but prosecutors said they've got evidence Davis purchased it as a means of transferring his wealth away from U.S. currency.
Simon admonished Davis, noting every citizen has an obligation to pay taxes -- even more so those who have made fortunes benefiting from taxpayer funds.
"In a very real sense, that obligation is even greater when the bulk of your profitability and resources come from other taxpayers," Simon said.
Davis will serve three years of post-release supervision once his prison term is up.