DENVER (AP/CBS4) – The father of Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights was sentenced Monday to 180 days in jail and six years of probation for evading state taxes.
Douglas Bruce, a former Colorado lawmaker, said state officials went after him for promoting smaller government. He vowed to appeal.
“This is not the end. This is just – what do they call? – a strange interlude,” Bruce said. He was ordered to report to jail Friday.
Bruce was sentenced after his felony convictions for evading state taxes, filing a false return and failing to file a tax return between 2005 and 2010.
Prosecutors said he hid millions of dollars in a sham charity that he set up to avoid taxes.
Bruce was also ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in restitution and court costs, and to share personal financial information with the government, including his checking accounts and investments. His jail term comes from two consecutive 90-day terms.
Before sentencing Bruce, Denver District Court Judge Anne Mansfield said he was disrespectful and in some ways unworthy of probation.
“The defendant had absolutely no regard for the rule of law,” Mansfield said.
She recounted his behavior while defending himself, including tardiness and tossing exhibits to the floor.
“His behavior during the trial was reprehensible,” she said.
However, the judge noted that Bruce is 62, has no criminal history, no drug problems and is unlikely to flee the state. Mansfield took pains to refute Bruce’s claim that he was being persecuted for being so abrasive.
“He’s not being sentenced for who he is,” Mansfield said.
“The jail sentence will hopefully be a deterrent to him and will teach him that simply being a Colorado citizen requires that you pay your taxes, not a penny more or penny less,” Assistant Attorney General Robert Shaprio said.
The Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, approved by voters in 1992, dramatically limits local and state governments from taxing and spending.
Bruce served part of a term as a Republican in the state House, where he made enemies for bombastic speech and rude behavior. He became the only Colorado House member ever censured by the chamber after kicking a news photographer who snapped Bruce’s picture during a prayer on the House floor in 2007.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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