IRS Agent Holds Own against Ryan Lawyer

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Byline: Rob Olmstead Daily Herald Staff Writer

A defense attorney for George Ryan used six thick tax code books to illustrate his point that Ryan would have had to have been a tax attorney to strictly obey the tax laws he is charged with breaking.

Dan Webb piled books about a foot and a half high Tuesday before government witness Shari Schindler, an agent with the Internal Revenue Service. He was disputing the government's insistence that payments Ryan received from businessman Anthony DeSantis were meant to be campaign donations, not gifts to Ryan and his children.

The difference is significant because gifts under $10,000 do not require that taxes be paid by the recipient.

Webb asked Schindler to read where in the volumes of tax codes, regulations and rules it defined what a gift is.

"It doesn't seem to define gift," said Schindler. "But I know that there's case law that defines what a gift is."

"So George Ryan should go read cases?" asked an incredulous Webb.

But not all of Webb's attacks worked out so well.

Pulling up government charts that totaled the amount prosecutors allege Ryan didn't pay from 1995 to 1998, he noted that Schindler had left in amounts Ryan later paid taxes for in amended returns filed in 2002.

Taking those numbers into account, Webb noted, brought the amount of unreported income down from about $80,000 to about $15,000.

"Your tax case gets reduced about 81 percent, is that right?"

"Um, yeah," said Schindler.

Then he pointed out that she had subtracted amounts from the charges that Ryan amended in 1998. …