Trump 14th Amendment Challenger Arrested on Federal Tax Charges

Trump 14th Amendment Challenger Arrested on Federal Tax Charges

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A man who filed a number of lawsuits against the former president was arrested.

A man who filed a number of lawsuits in different states to try and prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on ballots was arrested on federal tax charges.

John Anthony Castro was charged last week with 33 counts of aiding the preparation of false tax returns, according to Department of Justice prosecutors. They said that he ran a virtual tax business that gave customers returns beyond what they were really owed.

“Castro would promise a significantly higher refund than taxpayers could receive from other preparers and on many occasions, offered to split the additional refund with taxpayers,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents. “In order to achieve these larger refunds, Castro generated false deductions, that were not based in fact, and which were submitted without the taxpayer’s knowledge.”

An employee of the defendant spoke with the undercover official regarding tax deductions, the DOJ said.

“The employee stated that Mr. Castro would make any decisions regarding what items would be included on the tax filing. The employee did not identify any deductions that would apply to the agent and in the course of the interview, the undercover agent denied any facts that would support deductions,” the DOJ said, adding that in March 2018, Mr. Castro allegedly filed the undercover agent’s tax return with $29,339 in fraudulent deductions before the IRS sent back a refund of $6,007, while Mr. Castro received $2,999 for his services.

It added that Mr. Castro allegedly engaged in a similar pattern to concoct fraudulent deductions for dozens of other taxpayers. That resulted in “hundreds of thousands of improperly paid claims,” prosecutors said.

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In response to the charges, Mr. Castro told Newsweek that he believes the indictment is political retaliation because he challenged President Trump, who himself has been indicted in two separate jurisdictions by a federal special counsel.

“This is not by happenstance, this is not by pure chance at all. This is intentional targeting and political retaliation and abuse of the grand jury process,” he told the news outlet. “They’re just concerned with the headline ‘person suing Trump is arrested on tax charges.’ It’s their way of trying to sideline me and basically just silence me.”

Elaborating to the outlet, Mr. Castro said that years later, he “decided to start suing Trump in September 2023, and that is when they decide that they’re going to now impanel a grand jury and present that issue and try to secure an indictment. And that is just totally bogus.”

He added, “We discussed the issue in 2020. It was resolved in 2021. Why wait three more years to issue the indictment? And why impanel the grand jury right when I start taking on Trump? It’s pure and total political retaliation.”

In a statement to The Hill, Mr. Castro said that he does not care “if they offered me one day probation and a slap on the wrist in exchange for a guilty plea,” proclaiming, “This is going to trial. I am going to convince all 12 jurors that I am 100 percent innocent and that this is political retaliation.”

Filings Against Trump

As a longshot Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Castro has filed multiple lawsuits against President Trump in different jurisdictions. Several of the claims have been dismissed by various judges in recent weeks.

Most recently, a judge in Nevada dismissed one of his lawsuits against the former president, arguing in an order that he lacked standing to file the suit. The ruling, the judge added, was similar to rulings issued in several federal courts and that the plaintiff “is creating his own injury in order to manufacture standing.”

“To have standing to sue in federal court, a plaintiff must have suffered a concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent injury in fact that was caused by the defendant’s challenged conduct and is redressable by a favorable decision,” Judge Gloria Navarro wrote in the recent ruling.

His suit—and others—had asserted that President Trump was ineligible to appear on the ballot and cited an interpretation of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Section 3 on insurrections or rebellions.

In response, Mr. Castro asserted that federal courts are “fearful” to address the matter regarding President Trump.  “This Orwellian approach is a threat to both sides of the political spectrum. It guarantees that no commoner can ever challenge the political class,” he told The Epoch Times earlier this week.

The Trump campaign responded to Judge Navarro’s ruling by saying that President Trump “remains undefeated in federal court against these cynical efforts to interfere in the 2024 election. Courts in eleven states have now dismissed similar, pathetic, 14th Amendment ballot cases.”

“Make no mistake, each and every one of these ‘ballot-challenges’ are blatant attempts to steal the election for Crooked Joe Biden and disenfranchise over 100 million American voters,” the statement added.

Cases filed by Mr. Castro were separate from the ones in Maine and Colorado, where officials and judges in those two states recently decided to keep President Trump from appearing on their respective state ballots. Both cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court last year declined to hear a case that was filed by Mr. Castro that sought to disqualify the former president.

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