Nearing end of sentence, top tax evader still eyes vindication

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Walter Anderson was a wealthy telecommunications executive whose money helped underwrite private space-exploration efforts, but he became famous as the defendant in what federal prosecutors called the largest personal income-tax evasion case in U.S. history.

But less than six years after his sentencing in federal court in Washington, Anderson now is preparing to become a free man again.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2007, but because of the time he spent in the D.C. Jail while awaiting trail, he’ll be finished with his sentence by the end of the year. And he’s serving out his last few months in home confinement in Virginia.

In an email, Anderson declined to be interviewed, saying he hasn’t had good experiences with the press, but noted that he continues to contest his case.

According to a 2011 U.S. Tax Court filing, Anderson owes the government nearly a quarter-billion dollars in taxes and penalties from 1998 and 1999.

Anderson, 58, said he’s appealing that determination and that he owes no money for three earlier tax years.

It’s unclear how he will pay up if the appeal doesn’t go his way. Anderson said he was indigent during his criminal case, and he had a public defender represent him during his criminal case.

Meanwhile, though, the entrepreneur is already working on new business plans.

In a recent posting on a website called “Justice for Walt,” which has followed his case and called for his release, a message from Anderson states that he’s now “back in the real world.”

He wrote that he’d be “completely done with this ordeal” on Dec. 29, which is the same day that his sentence ends, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Until then,” Anderson wrote, “I have lots of things to work on here for now.”

Anderson’s upcoming plans include pursuing what he called a “virtual computer as a service” project, according to Anderson’s note.

Though he’s no longer behind bars, Anderson expressed continued bitterness about his time in the D.C. Jail in his email to The Washington Times. Deemed a flight risk, he was held in city jail after his arrest in 2005, when a federal magistrate cited, among other factors, the former business executive’s overseas connections.

Arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport as he was returning to the United States from London in 2005, Anderson, who had once backed plans to privatize the Mir Space Station, used offshore corporations to avoid paying taxes on $50 million that he earned in various business ventures between 1995 to 1999, prosecutors said at the time.

Anderson has denied committing tax fraud and — citing conditions inside the District’s jail facility, where he was held in solitary confinement — argues that his guilty plea wasn’t voluntary.

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