Crime & Courts

North Slope worker sentenced for tax crimes

A North Slope oil field worker who argued that state and federal laws didn't apply to him, and who squirreled away hundreds of thousands of dollars while dodging taxes, has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Anchorage to 16 months in prison and must pay a $10,000 fine plus $113,000 in back taxes.

James R. Back, 60, of Soldotna, must also cover $17,000 in costs associated with his prosecution, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney for Alaska Karen Loeffler.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline issued the sentence, with the prison term to be followed by a year of supervised release.

Back earned more than $125,000 as a pipeline technician for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. over seven years, starting in 2006, when he either falsified his taxes -- claiming he made nothing -- or did not file a return.

A jury convicted Back in October on all seven federal tax crimes he was charged with, the statement said.

"Back represented himself at the trial, and argued to the jury that taxation was immoral and unfair, and that he simply refused to submit to it anymore," the statement said. "He argued that the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend was not taxable, even though he applied for and received it each year."

Back also ignored "prior warnings from his employer, his supervisor, the IRS, and a United States Tax Court Judge that his arguments were frivolous," the statement said.

Evidence presented at trial showed Back contributed more than $140,000 to a retirement plan during the seven-year period. He also "had investment accounts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, owned real estate in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and purchased over $400,000 in gold and silver bullion," the statement said.