COLORADO, USA — A Colorado man pleaded guilty Thursday to failing to surrender after he skipped town to avoid serving a five-year prison sentence for tax evasion.
Federal officials said Lawrence Birk also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm by a felon.
Birk fled Colorado with a fully-automatic assault rifle, two pistols, more than a dozen loaded magazines, hundreds of rounds of extra ammunition, ballistic helmets, ballistic vests and gas masks, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Birk was caught in Florida in January of this year after being on the run for about two months, according to the DOJ.
The DOJ said Birk was convicted by a jury of tax evasion in July 2019.
Birk founded Tarryall River Log Homes, LLC, which sold and built log homes, according to the DOJ.
The DOJ said that while the company was profitable, Birk did not pay federal taxes on its income. When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began collection efforts, Birk hired a tax firm to prepare eight years' worth of delinquent tax returns, but hid $400,000 of retirement distributions from the firm, according to the DOJ.
Birk sent threatening messages to the IRS and tried to stop them from seizing money from his bank accounts, the DOJ said.
Birk didn't file or make any tax payments from 2006-2018, according to the DOJ.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn sentenced Birk on Oct. 30, 2019 to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and more than $1.8 million in restitution to the IRS.
Birk was supposed to report to prison in November 2019, but instead fled, according to federal officials.
Birk's sentencing for his new charges will be held on Sept. 10. The DOJ said Birk faces a maximum sentence of five years on the failure to appear charge and up to 10 years for possession of a firearm by a felon, in addition to the original five-year prison sentence for tax evasion.
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