PICTURED: This photo of Cirino Gonzalez, downloaded from his mySpace.com page, depicts him with a rifle.

Gonzalez's father says he may join his son to stand against government

Cirino Gonzalez, 30, joined Browns in fight against federal taxes

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

A 30-year-old Alice native has joined a group of tax-protesters who have barricaded themselves in a home in New Hampshire, in what some fear may soon become a standoff similar to the one that unfolded in Waco, Texas, in 1993.

Cirino "Reno" Gonzalez, 30, of Alice is one of more than a dozen people who have joined a New Hampshire couple, Ed and Elaine Brown, in a protest against the federal income tax.

The Browns, who in April were sentenced to more than five years in prison after they were convicted of multiple charges related to tax evasion, have refused to surrender to federal marshals and are currently living with several supporters in a home in Plainfield, N.H.

An Alice Native

Gonzalez was a student at Alice High School before dropping out in 1993 and obtaining his GED. He studied law enforcement at a community college and worked as a clerk in the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department for a short period of time, and worked at the Thunder Road night club, his father said.

A divorced father of four children, all under the age of 11 years, Gonzalez is the son of Jose M. Gonzalez, also of Alice.

Cirino Gonzalez joined the Navy in 1995 and received an honorable discharge in 2003. Following his return to Alice, he accepted a job with a civilian contractor working in Iraq, where he repaired weapons for the military before returning to Alice, his father said.

Asking Questions

Cirino Gonzalez said Tuesday the journey that brought him to New Hampshire began in 2005, when he started questioning the reasons behind the war in Iraq. Questions about funding for the war led him to investigate the federal tax system, and in particular the operation of the federal reserve.

During the course of researching those issues on the Internet, Gonzalez found information that led him to believe the government does not have the legal authority to collect federal income taxes. Gonzalez said although he found many like-minded people on the Internet, that belief has cost him in his relationships with friends and family.

"Most people do not want to deal with this initially. I've lost a lot of friends because they just turned tail while I was talking to them, and they went away," Gonzalez said. "Later, they came to me and told me that what I was saying was true."

Gonzalez compared the government to a Mafia organization, and said people continue to pay income taxes because they either do not understand the "truth" or they are afraid of reprisal.

"Why are so many people put in jail, having their families destroyed, their homes taken away, their land ripped away from them when there is no law stating they are required to pay protection money to the government?" Gonzalez said.

Although Gonzalez said his primary question is "where is the law?" related to federal income tax, he took issue with many other legal questions during a phone interview Tuesday.

Over the course of more than an hour, Gonzalez questioned the legality of free speech zones, the purpose and effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security, the need for banks to obtain Social Security numbers, the wording of firearm laws, the effectiveness of the United States military and the legality of seat belt ordinances.

Joining The Browns

In January, Gonzalez saw a short news story related to the Browns' case on television and followed up that story with research on the Internet, including reading blog sites set up by the Browns and their supporters.

After communicating with them for some time, Gonzalez made the decision to drive to New Hampshire the weekend before Easter to give them his support.

"It takes your personal integrity to stand up and stand with the people who are being unjustly accused of things," said Gonzalez from the Browns' New Hampshire home. "I caught hell from all of my family. Basically I tried to tell them something that they initially couldn't grasp."

The Home

The Browns' home is located on a hilltop in a 110-acre, heavily wooded estate. The large home was reportedly built with 8-inch thick concrete walls, has a private well and has the capacity to generate some electricity. A five-story-high tower sits atop the home, with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Ed Brown has told reporters the home has a large stockpile of food, and supporters have reportedly brought more supplies in recent weeks.

A Supportive Father

Jose M. Gonzalez, Cirino's father, is a strong supporter of his son's decision to move to New Hampshire, and has been following the case.

Jose M. Gonzalez served in the U.S. Army for six years, and has a bachelor's degree from Texas A and M Corpus Christi in psychology and sociology. He is working on a master's in counseling, with an emphasis on family counseling, and currently works as a counselor at the Alice Counseling Center.

Jose M. Gonzalez said he believes actions by the U.S. Marshals last week, in which they reportedly used armored personnel carriers to execute a warrant on a business owned by the Browns, are signs the confrontation might be moving toward violence.

"Our primary goal is to inform the American public of the truth, which is there is no federal income tax in America," Jose M. Gonzalez said. "Personally, I don't want my son to die trying to get this message across. So I will drive to New Hampshire to protect him, if I have to."

Jose M. Gonzalez, who has not paid income taxes since 1997 he said, empathizes with the Browns' situation and agrees with their cause.

Moving Toward Violence?

The Browns and Cirino Gonzalez have informed law enforcement officials that if any move is made on their home, they will use lethal force against the federal agents.

Gonzalez brought several weapons with him to the home, and announced on his myspace.com page that he had recently purchased a .50-caliber rifle.

When asked why they would choose to fight against federal agents, Cirino Gonzalez said they were "taking a stand" to protect other Americans.

"If we don't stand now, while it is at our doorstep, if we don't stop it here, it's going to be at your doorstep," Gonzalez said.

Jose M. Gonzalez said he was afraid for his son's safety, and was considering driving to New Hampshire to join Cirino. Although his occupational speciality in the Army was as a truck driver, Jose M. Gonzalez said he is reluctant to join the group in New Hampshire because he might be compelled to use other information he learned in the service.

"I had trained as a[I'm not supposed to say it, but I guess I've been out long enough]as a specialist in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare," Jose M. Gonzalez said. "This is what scares me. I know how to kill people in mass quantities. I don't want to go up there."

A Waiting Game

U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier, who has been charged with the arrest of the Browns, said Wednesday the Browns are attempting to work outside the law.

"They had a trial in front of a jury of their peers, and they were convicted on all counts," Monier said. "No man is above or below the law, and they don't get to decide what the rules are."

Monier also discouraged anyone from joining the Browns, and warned Cirino and Jose could face separate criminal charges.

"Aiding and abetting people in their continuing obstruction of justice, in this case the Browns' refusal to surrender and submit to authorities, is a separate felony offense," Monier said. "Bringing them weapons, they are convicted felons, is a separate criminal offense.

"Reno is not helping the situation, he is hurting it."

Although he acknowledged that he had cut power and phone lines to the house, Monier said he had "no intention of storming the house," and was prepared to take as long as necessary to resolve the situation peacefully.

"If I wanted to kill Ed Brown, I would have done it a long time ago. But that's not our objective. Our objective is to take them into custody without causing any harm," Monier said. "The Marshal Service has been around 216 years. Do you think we're going anywhere?"

The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire contributed to this report.