Why I Shouldn't Do Time

By Brian Hickey
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 20, 2009

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Some juvenile offenders will never again see the light of day after they enter this facility in Indiana County. (Penn DOC)

T. Milton Street Sr. has been many things over the years. State senator. Rabble-rouser. Hot-dog vendor. Man with sometimes-questionable plans. Mayoral brother. Mayoral candidate. City Council candidate. A crooner with a coffin.

This week, though, he takes on a new role: A charge of the federal-prison system. At his February trial, Milton beat mail- and wire-fraud charges but was found guilty on three counts of failing to file tax returns in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Now, the piper is coming for the due payment as U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis decrees how much of the 27-to-36 month sentence Milton should serve.

As the fateful day approached, the soon-to-be-sentenced Street sat down with PW to explain why he doesn't think he deserves to serve one second in prison, what he's been up to lately and what the future will hold whether he does time or not.

What follows is an as-told-to account of those conversations.

"I thought the verdict was great. My attorney did a good job with the felonies [which alleged he scammed some $2 million by claiming he could help facilitate contracts due to his family name]. I thought that was extremely important, with so many people in the city talking about pay-to-pay, that the jury found there was no pay-to-play, no crime, no wrongdoing and for that, I'm grateful.

"What I was convicted of was not tax evasion; it was failure to file. And I'm somewhat upset with that conviction because I believe firmly, within my heart, that if I had an opportunity to defend myself, and if my subpoenas of the pertinent government officials were not quashed, it would have been a different verdict."

Ed Note: A juror contacted about the case last week said she "wasn't interested in talking about it," so there's little way to determine whether, in fact, his witnesses could have swayed the jury.

"I didn't get the opportunity to present the case I'd prepared with extensive research. Now, I'm facing a possible three years in prison without having opportunity to defend my position on the Paperwork Reduction Act in instruction booklet. I believe in the rule of law, and I followed the IRS Commissioner's announcement as related to the 1040-form instruction booklet; it says you're not required to file this 1040 if there is no valid OMB control number. To this day, I don't believe, in bottom of my heart, that the form has a valid OMB control number. Then, I can't be indicted and convicted of willfully not filing!"

Ed Note: Among the reams of paperwork that Milton provided to make his case was a copy of the Internal Revenue Service's 2007 1040-form instruction booklet. On page 83 lies the root of Milton's entire case. There, the Disclosure, Privacy Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act Notice states, "You are not required to provide the information requested on a form that is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act unless the form displays a valid OMB [Office of Management and Budget] control number." Milton maintains that his 2002, 2003 and 2004 1040 forms didn't contain such numbers and, as such, he wasn't required to file the forms. He also provided summaries of several court cases, including one that reached the U.S. Supreme Court  that seemingly back his stance and show that those who were able to employ such a defense were on a righteous path. However, he says he was never able to call witnesses to discuss the issue.

"I had subpoenaed an OMB representative, someone from the Attorney General's office and somebody from the IRS and I wasn't allowed to call them into court. But the prosecutor was able to call people from the IRS to support her case! Why can't the defendant do the same thing? That, to me, is not what America is all about. If I have to abide by the rule of the law, why doesn't the IRS?

"I understand that Judge Davis took the word of the prosecutors because the prosecutors are officers of the court and I think the judge thought the prosecution wouldn't deceive him.

"The motion to quash my subpoenas was made three minutes before trial started. I believe the judge thought that the prosecution had actually completed its research and that it was accurate and that they wouldn't deceive him. But he made a ruling based on the deception.

"I asked for five interrogators asking for the same information and they said they're not giving it to you. We asked again, and they said they're not necessary. So, what they're saying is an announcement, from the IRS Commissioner, in the 1040 book four separate times, aren't necessary."

Ed Note: On that request for interrogatory information-- in which the parties are asked to provide information based on specific questions from the other side--there's a handwritten note from Milton seeking, "pertinent statutes ... authorizing the IRS to levy and collect a direct unapportioned tax on the American peoples wages."

****

 "I've never said that people aren't required to pay their income taxes. I'm obligated, we're all obligated. But the process is to go to tax court. Tax court is a court of revenue. The IRS calls you down and tells you that you owe this kind of money and then you negotiate, but in my case, they turned it into a criminal matter. I'm saying it can't be criminal because, until you verify, IRS, that you have a valid OMB control number, there's no willfulness not to file. These things can't be ambiguous, or uncertain. The law has to be clear so members of the general public know exactly what their responsibility and their duty is. It's a perversion of logic otherwise!

"I think I should have another opportunity, before I have to go to jail or prison, to argue my case, to prove my case in a court of law. All I'm saying is give me a fair chance to defend myself!

"I feel like the case was politically motivated, because Milton Street has an outspoken, what's been referred to as a radical, or big, mouth. But that should not preclude me from having an equal opportunity in a court of law. I should have the same opportunity to go into a court and prove my case vigorously as anybody else. I have to appeal this. I don't have a choice.

"I have no idea what's in the judge's head, but I've been sleeping well at night. Judge Davis is a very fair judge who I honestly believe will apply rule of law.

"Lately, I've been spending a lot of time cutting the grass and riding my bicycle and talking to street vendors around Philly. "

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