Feds Corner Home Of Convicted Tax Evaders

The concrete home of Ed and Elaine Brown in Plainfield, N.H., Jan. 17, 2007. AP

Federal authorities have cut phone, power and Internet service at the fortified compound of a couple convicted of tax evasion who have refused to report to prison.

It's unclear what effect that has on Ed and Elaine Brown, who have solar and wind power generators at their 110-acre spread, where they have been holed up for months.

Authorities say they don't think the Browns' equipment is sufficient to keep the home running for long.

U.S. Marshal Steve Monier acknowledged Wednesday that waiting out the Browns could take months, but he said time was on authorities' side. He said he hoped prison would seem like an agreeable option for the Browns after a summer without air conditioning and possibly a winter without heat.

The Browns, who insist federal income tax laws are invalid, were sentenced to 5½ years in prison in April. They were also ordered to forfeit $215,890 to the government — the amount the government says the Browns purchased in small postal money orders in order to avoid paying income tax on Elaine Brown's dental practice income of $1.9 million between 1996 and 2003.

Authorities surrounded their property last week and cut its utilities this week.

"We have seized their phone and Internet service, and two days ago, we cut their power," Monier said. "It's a continuing effort to move them along to understand they need to do the right thing, and this is to surrender to us."

Monier said last week's heavy law enforcement presence was a surveillance mission. Ed Brown predicted then that authorities would try to take him by force.

But Monier said he has no interest in raiding the house or harming the Browns. He said he just wants justice served. "We are committed to ending this peacefully," he told a newspaper.

"It's unfortunate that the Browns are taking this position they have been throughout the process," Monier said. "There's been an outcome, and they need to surrender."

Monier told the Manchester Union Leader his office was flooded with telephone calls Tuesday — at one point as many as 200 an hour — after Web sites implored federal authorities to leave the couple alone and urged supporters to call the Marshals Service, the governor and sheriff.
  • Lloyd Vries

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