CHEYENNE, Wyoming (LAWFUEL) – A jury today found a Gillette, Wyoming man guilty of mailing threatening communications and interfering with the administration of Internal Revenue laws, United States Attorney Troy A. Eid announced. The verdict came following a 3 ½ day jury trial before Wyoming U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson. The jury deliberated for just over 3 hours before reaching their verdict. The defendant, Laurence Eustelle Wolff, age 60, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Johnson on February 20, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.
Laurence Eustelle Wolff was charged by Criminal Complaint on August 22, 2008. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Cheyenne, Wyoming on September 24, 2008. Wolff’s jury trial began on December 8, 2008, ending today, December 11, 2008.
According to the indictment, as well as the evidence presented to the jury during the trial, in 2007 Laurence Wolff’s house was the subject of an Order of Foreclosure and Decree of Sale. On August 15, 2008, Wolff mailed threatening communications to numerous government employees, including IRS employees, which stated that he would defend his property, threatening to kill any person who attempts to enforce the Foreclosure Order and Decree of Sale. On August 18, 2008, Wolff refused to vacate his foreclosed property, located at 1104 Buckskin Drive, in Gillette, Wyoming. Further, Wolff posted notices on the property threatening to use force against law enforcement officers. Lastly, Wolff barricaded entry doors, and placed loaded firearms in various locations throughout the house. He was arrested on August 29, 2008 after vacating his property.
“After refusing to pay federal taxes for 20 years, the defendant threatened Wyoming’s Chief U.S. District Court Judge and other public officials, vowing a bloody standoff if law enforcement tried to carry out the court’s orders,” said United States Attorney Troy Eid. “Special thanks to IRS-CI Special Agent James Marcy and Postal Inspector Chris Lucas of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.”
“The defendant’s threatening communications through the U.S. Mail caused grave concern for many; as the defendant had the ability to carry out the threats. The Postal Inspection Service will continue to investigate individuals who utilize the U.S. Mail to commit crimes against the American Public,” said Shawn Tiller, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
“This verdict should send a clear message interfering with the tax law or those administering tax laws is unacceptable,” said Christopher M. Sigerson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Denver Field Office.
“We are committed to the protection of Internal Revenue Service employees who are doing their jobs and we are very pleased with the guilty verdict,” said Terry K. Peacock, Special Agent in Charge of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Denver Field Division.
Wolff faces up to 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, for each of the 3 counts of mailing threatening communications. He faces not more than 5 years, and up to a $250,000 fine, for the fourth count of mailing threatening communications. Wolff also faces not more than 1 year imprisonment and up to a $3,000 fine for each of the 2 counts of interference with the administration of Internal Revenue laws.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office.
Wolff was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Hearty, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Major Crimes Section, and United States Attorney Troy Eid. The case was handled by District of Colorado prosecutors because District of Wyoming prosecutors were recussed because they too received threatening letters.