Judge files Browns’ appeal

Tax evaders intended challenge in January
By Margot Sanger-Katz | Concord Monitor

Notice of Ed and Elaine Brown’s desire to appeal their tax evasion convictions has been sent along to the federal appeals court in Boston, even though the couple have not indicated that they want to appeal.

The Browns, who have been holed up in their fortified Plainfield home for several months, have said on radio broadcasts and internet postings that they are returning any government mail unopened and have described the court as a “fiction” unworthy of their attention. They have not sent any new documents to the court since their sentencing hearing April 24.

Even so, Judge Steven McAuliffe, who oversaw their case, decided to infer from previous filings that the Browns intended to appeal, even if they failed to file the necessary paperwork by the deadline.

A few days after they were found guilty of conspiring to evade taxes on nearly $1.9 million in Elaine Brown’s income and of plotting to disguise large financial transactions, the couple filed a document stating their intention to appeal the decision. But because the Browns had not been sentenced yet, the judgment in their case was not yet considered final. McAuliffe returned their filing fee and dismissed their motion, finding it premature.

But recently, he reversed that opinion, saying in a court order that he had decided to treat the January notice of appeal as if it had been filed in April.

“The notices of appeal are deemed timely,” he wrote, asking the Browns to repay the filing fee within 30 days.

This week, McAuliffe urged the process along, though the record reflects no filings or payments by the Browns. A new order instructed the clerk to forward the court record to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The court docket also includes a copy of the cover letter the clerk sent to the appeals court.

If they choose to pursue an appeal, the Browns must now file documents with the circuit court explaining what they think went wrong at the trial court.

Ed Brown chose not to answer questions about his plans to appeal yesterday.

“You don’t exist,” he said. “I don’t care.”

But Cirino Gonzalez, a former military contractor who is a recent addition to the Brown household, posted on the couple’s MySpace page that they had learned about the judge’s decision from U.S. marshals who have been calling daily. The marshals are charged with arresting the Browns on bench warrants but have said they will not raid the couple’s home.

“The sentencing having been done the judge complains of not getting an appeal now that he is ready,” Gonzalez wrote, in a posting that summarized the case’s timeline from his perspective. “Time for appeal runs out and U.S. Marshal calls to inform Ed that the judge turned in an appeal on their behalf. HOW SWEET.”

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