The jury deciding the fate of three men who helped tax protesters Ed and Elaine Brown did not reach a verdict yesterday after deliberating for about seven hours. The jury of seven men and five women will resume their deliberations this morning.
The defendants were prominent supporters of the Browns, who engaged in a nearly nine-month standoff in Plainfield last year when they refused to surrender to authorities following convictions for tax-related felonies. The defendants, Jason Gerhard of Brookhaven, N.Y.; Cirino Gonzalez of Alice Texas; and Daniel Riley of Cohoes, N.Y., were accused of conspiring to prevent U.S. marshals from arresting the Browns, aiding the couple and bringing them guns to help prevent their arrest. Gerhard and Riley were also charged with handling destructive devices.
During the course of deliberations yesterday, the jury made several requests of the judge, which were discussed in closed-door hearings in his chambers. According to sources who learned about the meetings, jurors requested a whiteboard, markers and pushpins, and they also asked to see some of the devices.
The Browns maintain that there is no legitimate law requiring ordinary Americans to pay federal income taxes, and they attracted the attention and support of many who shared their dislike of taxes and their suspicion about the federal government.
Evidence in the case included dozens of improvised explosive devices, including pipe bombs, nail bombs and exploding rifle targets. It also included an array of homemade and conventional firearms. Prosecutors argued last week that this arsenal of weapons and the presence of dedicated supporters like the defendants made it difficult for authorities to arrest the Browns.
The Browns were ultimately tricked by an undercover team of marshals who posed as supporters and were invited to the house by the couple, after the defendants on trial had been arrested. The couple are serving 63-month sentences in federal prisons for their tax crimes.
Defense attorneys argued that while the defendants did help and support the Browns, they did not conspire together and did not share the same goals.
Gonzalez, the only defendant to testify in the case, said that he went to the Browns to attract attention to unrelated political causes.
Reprinted with permission.