Tax protester in 2007 armed standoff to remain in prison

A New Hampshire man will face more time in prison stemming from a monthslong armed standoff with U.S. marshals in 2007 over a tax evasion conviction that led to the discovery of explosives and booby traps on his property

Tax Evaders Sentencing
Tax Evaders Sentencing

A New Hampshire man will face more time in prison, a judge decided Tuesday in a case resulting from a monthslong armed standoff with U.S. marshals in 2007 over a tax evasion conviction that led to the discovery of explosives and booby traps on his property.

The judge said Edward Brown, who was being resentenced, should go back to prison for about 17 additional years.

“It’s a death sentence is what it is," Brown, 78, said to a friend as he was led away in handcuffs.

Brown was originally sentenced to 37 years in prison after the standoff at his fortress-like home in Plainfield, New Hampshire. His wife, Elaine Brown, received a 35-year sentence. A judge decided in January she could be released after serving over 12 years. She is seeking a divorce.

One charge against the Browns that involved the use of explosives carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years. It was vacated following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that found the provision of the law under which they were convicted was invalid.

Edward Brown, who has now served 13 years, had said resentencing him would be unconstitutional, violating the Fifth Amendment due process clause and the double jeopardy prohibition against multiple punishments for an offense.

He also cited his minimal history of criminal behavior, declining health, age and risk factors for complications from COVID-19, along with the fact that Elaine Brown and two other defendants were sentenced to time served.

Prosecutors had recommended that Edward Brown stay in prison.

Elaine, a dentist, and Edward, an exterminator, were initially convicted of failing to pay taxes on $1.9 million of income over eight years. The couple said the federal income tax is unconstitutional.

Their argument, repeatedly rejected by courts, was that no law authorizes the federal income tax and that the 1913 constitutional amendment permitting it was never properly ratified.

The Browns had declined to appear in court and retreated to their home. Anti-tax crusaders and out-of-state militia groups rallied to their cause. Supporters waved “Don’t tread on me” flags and “Don’t Murder the Browns for Money” signs.

Among the visitors was Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were killed along with a deputy marshal during the infamous Ruby Ridge shootout with federal agents in North Idaho in 1992.

U.S. marshals posing as supporters eventually gained entry to the Browns’ home and arrested them. No one was hurt.

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