Marinello v. United States [SCOTUSbrief]
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Marinello v. United States [SCOTUSbrief]


Carlo Marinello is the petitioner in this
case. He was convicted by the DOJ of tax fraud as
well as obstruction. He owned and operated his own freight couriering
business. He did not keep a tight ship. He was accused of impeding the administration
of the tax code by failing to maintain corporate books and records, failing to provide his
accountant with complete and accurate information related to his personal income and the income
of his business, destroying and discarding business records. The government, in this case, claims that
Mr. Marinello committed north tax fraud and obstruction. The IRS has defined obstruction as any attempt
to interfere with the day-to-day work of the IRS. Mr. Marinello admits that he committed tax
fraud. But he says that he can’t also be convicted
of obstruction when he did not even know that an investigation was underway. The fighting issue in this case really is: Can a defendant be said to have a criminal state of mind to obstruct when he doesn’t
know that an investigation is in process. More typically in criminal cases, obstruction
is related to after-the-fact behavior. Section 7212(a) of the Internal Revenue Code
says, “Whoever corruptly, or by force, endeavors to obstruct or impede the due administration
of this title shall, upon conviction therefore, be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned
not more than three years, or both.” The term corruptly goes to a defendant’s state
of mind, and state of mind is a very important question in every criminal case. State of mind, or scienter, as the law defines
it, is an element of almost every criminal offense. A person cannot be guilty of a crime unless
he intended to cross a certain line. So whether or not Mr. Marinello possessed
the requisite state of mind is a critical question in this case. As it’s written, it’s very broad. The IRS gets to decide whether or not their
procedures have been interfered with. A broad interpretation of the statute gives
the IRS more power to pursue more wrongdoers. The government’s position, in this case, is
that every hour of every day, the United States IRS is administering the tax code. The IRS basically says that Mr. Marinello,
as a business owner, should have known that is conduct violated tax law. Mr. Marinello says that although he may have
ad- violated the tax law, he did not know that he was obstructing in any way a pending
investigation. Statutes have to be clear enough that a reasonable
man would know he was violating them. The government’s best argument is its reliance
on the plain language of the statute. The statute in question nowhere mentions a
pending investigation, nowhere requires the defendant have knowledge of a pending investigation. And the government says, by its own terms, the
statute does not require this additional element. The government argues that Mr. Mar- Marinello
has simply made this up to suit his own situation. A victory for the government is the ability
to send a strong message to taxpayers that they will be pursued aggressively for any
perceived violation of the tax laws. And this case would certainly embolden the
IRS to continue to seek aggressive judgments and prosecutions against defendants whether
or not they knew an investigation was underway.

4 Comments

  • BrotherWoody1

    There's far too much power in the fallible hands of the IRS & their banker bosses. There needs to be less of it, not more of it..

  • Maria Smith

    The IRS is sounding dirtier and dirtier all the time. They were found to have been ordered to audit conservatives, and deny 501 status to any kind of groups that wanted to make sure the election was fair. I can hardly believe it, and wouldn't have except they admitted it, honestly. They don't even seem to think it was wrong.

  • Michael Hamilton

    yea the guy is committing crimes and covering it up as he goes. if you kill someone that a crime if you dispose of the body that is another crime. not that hard folks

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