Tax Protester Gets Nearly 4 Years

Times Staff Writer

A Burbank tax protester, who brought an American flag to his trial because he didn't like the courtroom's flag, has received the longest sentence ever meted out in Southern California for failure to file state income tax forms, a spokeswoman for the state Franchise Tax Board said.

David C. Roberts, 56, a former studio projectionist, was sentenced to just under four years in County Jail, 360 days on each of four counts, on his conviction on four misdemeanor counts of failing to file income tax forms from 1981 to 1984.

Typically, defendants in such cases receive 10 days in jail and probation, board spokeswoman Janie Cordray said. But Burbank Municipal Judge C. Bernard Kaufman imposed the maximum sentence Monday after Roberts refused to pay his back taxes on income of $138,000.

Because Roberts would not accept the terms of probation, which included his agreeing to pay taxes, the tax board recommended the maximum sentence, Cordray said.

Deputy City Atty. Terry Stevenson argued that, if Roberts wanted to exhibit civil disobedience like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dante Alighieri and Henry David Thoreau, anything less than the maximum would be an insult to him.

"We're going to put this guy out of circulation for four years. We won't get any money," Cordray said.

Roberts, who is free on bond pending appeal, could not be reached for comment.

According to Cordray, Roberts said in court that he did not recognize the proceedings because he is a sovereign individual who has no contract with the state.

Roberts, who has filed a lawsuit against the tax board, the judge and prosecutor asking $6 trillion for damages, also complained that the court's flag has a fringe so he took his own flag to court.

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