Ronald Weinland, a 63-year-old Doomsday prophet, was recently tried and found guilty of federal tax evasion.
Weinland was found guilty of five tax law
violations when he failed to pay more than $350,000 in taxes between 2005 and 2010. Jurors agreed with the grand jury indictment, which accused the preacher of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into a Swiss bank account, lying on federal tax forms and writing off personal expenses as church expenses. These deductions included stays at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas, tickets to the Blue Man Group and clothing purchases at Nordstrom.
Weinland defended his actions, arguing that the financial system would collapse before the world ended. He also explained using church funds to pay for family members’ housing arrangements and his home security system by noting he receives death threats due to his teachings. However, prosecutors argued that Weiland’s personal religious beliefs and teachings could not be used as a viable excuse for his failure to report on foreign bank accounts or for his taking false tax deductions.
The preacher also noted that he never attempted to educate himself on the validity of his tax deductions.
The jury took less than four hours to convict Weinland on all counts. He put up a $300,000 bond and was placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring until U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves sentences him on September 24. He will face up to five years in prison.
Weinland gained notoriety by twice predicting the end of the world, first to occur on September 30, 2008 then again on May 27, 2012.