Ex-Aide to Bakker, Brother Convicted of Not Paying Taxes

From Times Wire Services

David Taggart, a former top aide to PTL founder Jim Bakker, and his brother were convicted today of not paying taxes on $1.1 million on PTL money they spent on fast cars, fancy homes and lavish gifts.

David and James Taggart were convicted on five counts of not paying federal taxes and both face a maximum of 25 years in prison and fines of more than $1 million. Sentencing tentatively was set for Aug. 25.

Both Taggarts sat quietly as the verdict was read. David Taggart looked at the jurors as they were polled individually. James Taggart continued to stare straight ahead.

Deliberations Over 2 Days

The jury of four men and eight women deliberated four hours and 45 minutes over two days before returning the verdicts.

David Taggart was Bakker's closest aide at PTL, and James was the ministry's interior decorator.

On his way out of the courtroom, David Taggart, accompanied by his brother, parents and two female friends, was asked for his reaction to the convictions.

"There's nothing to say," he replied.

U.S. District Judge Robert Potter set post-conviction unsecured bonds of $50,000. He ordered the brothers to call a federal probation officer every day and to appear at the probation office once a week until sentencing.

Bakker and his right-hand man at PTL, Richard Dortch, will go on trial next month on separate charges of fraud and conspiracy.

Government prosecutors built their case on how much money disappeared from PTL while David Taggart had control of the ministry's executive offices and on how grandly the Taggarts lived, squandering a fortune on good times with their friends.

Prosecutor David Brown told the jury that of the $1.2 million the Taggarts allegedly took, $750,000 was in cash.

"People don't routinely use hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash unless they're trying to conceal something," Brown said.

"If you're not offended by how they lived, by the fact that the money came from PTL, money made up of a lot of small contributions--if you are not offended by all that, you ought to be offended by the testimony they gave in this courtroom," Brown had told jurors in his summation.

James Taggart testified that his brother handled all of their personal and professional finances, and David Taggart said he had authorization from Bakker to take large bonuses and cash advances on PTL credit cards.

Refused to Answer Questions

Bakker was called to testify at the trial but refused to answer any questions, citing his constitutional protection against self-incrimination.

Prosecutor Brown said the verdict was "not about PTL. It was about David Taggart and James Taggart's obligations to pay their taxes no matter how much they own and what kind of life style they live.

"Greed doesn't pay. No matter how rich you are, you've got to pay your taxes."

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