United States v. Kahre

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 12-05-2013
  • Case #: 09-10471; 09-10528; 09-10529
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam; Circuit Judges Hug, Jr., Rawlinson, and Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

When calculating the tax responsibility for compensation in gold coins or certificates, the employer must use the fair-market value, not the face-value, of the coins.

Robert Kahre (“Kahre”), Lauria Kahre, and Alexander Logia were convicted for criminal tax evasions. Kahre paid out employees in gold and silver with the expectation that the employees would exchange the coins for cash. An indictment alleged that Kahre actually paid out an eighth of what the workers should have earned and did withhold required payroll related taxes. Kahre alleged that he did not know his actions were criminal. The Ninth Circuit reviewed the district court’s dismissal of a motion to suppress evidence and found that there was no error because the warrant was specific. The panel then reviewed the district court’s decisions regarding the use of gold as compensation and found clear statutory evidence stating that when gold coins are used as currency and the fair-market value exceeds the face value of the gold coin, then the coin must be taxed as personal property. Furthermore, the appellants had proper notice of the valuation of the coins and sought to use the perceived ambiguity between face-value and fair-market value to their advantage. The panel reviewed the denial of a motion to disqualify the prosecutor for abuse of discretion. The panel found that the appellants did not provide clear and convincing evidence that the prosecutor had a conflict of interest. The panel reviewed two evidentiary rulings, finding: (1) the district court can exclude evidence to prove what the law is, but cannot exclude it to prove the defendant’s mental state; and (2) the district court excluded potentially admissible hearsay evidence, but the error was harmless. The panel reviewed a claim of bias by the district court and did not find clear evidence of bias. Finally, the panel found that the district court had ample support for Kahre’s sentence, which was actually below the guidelines. AFFIRMED.

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