N.H. Tax Evaders Arrested, Ending Standoff

Ed and Elaine Brown talk to reporters during a news conference in Plainfield, N.H., in this June 18, 2007 file photo. According to the U.S. Marshall's office, the couple was arrested without incident Thursday evening Oct. 4, 2007 after refusing to turn themselves into authorities following an April sentencing for tax evasion.
AP Photo/Jim Cole, FILE
U.S. marshals posing as supporters arrested convicted tax-evaders Ed and Elaine Brown, ending a months-long standoff at their rural, fortress-like home.

"They invited us in, and we escorted them out," U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier said Friday, releasing the first details of the arrests the night before in Plainfield, a small town in west-central New Hampshire.

A handful of marshals pulled off the ruse, arresting the Browns without incident on their front porch, Monier said at a news conference.

The standoff began in January, when Brown, 65, a retired exterminator, and his dentist wife, 67, walked out of their federal trial in Concord. She returned to the trial but soon joined her husband at home, where they vowed to resist violently if authorities tried to arrest them.

"We either walk out of here free or we die," Ed Brown said at the time.

Monier said officials found booby traps in the woods on the 100-plus-acre property and weapons, ammunition and homemade bombs inside and outside the house. He said more charges are likely.

"Show me the law and I'll pay the tax," Ed Brown, who was involved in a "patriot" militia in the 1990s, said in an interview several days before his arrest. "Don't show me the law and I'm not going to give you a dime. What part of that don't you understand?" Wearily, he wife added: "The only way to leave here is free, or dead," reports the Washington Post.

The Browns repeatedly compared their situation to the confrontations at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and Waco, Tex., a year later.

"By their continuing actions, allegedly, to obstruct justice, to encourage others to assist them to obstruct justice, by making threats toward law enforcement and other governmental officials, they have turned this into more than a tax case," he said.

The Browns were turned over to federal corrections officials to serve prison terms of 63 months. They were convicted in January of scheming to avoid federal income taxes by hiding $1.9 million of income between 1996 and 2003.

The couple claims the federal income tax is not legitimate. Their argument - repeatedly rejected by courts - is that no law authorizes the federal income tax and that the 1913 constitutional amendment permitting it was never properly ratified.

Experts had praised authorities' hands-off approach before the surprise arrests, but patience had worn thin among some of Plainfield's 2,400 residents. During the summer, town selectmen asked Monier to stop the influx of militiamen and other anti-government groups to the Browns' home and to bring the couple to justice.

Monier said he was sympathetic to the complaints, but said cutting off access to the Browns would have undercut his plan.

"Throughout this ordeal, the bad news was that the Browns continued to invite supporters to their property. The good news was that the Browns continued to invite supporters to their property," he said.