Crooked ‘tax defier’ dentist had local roots

ALBANY—An orthodontist with ties to Columbia County and an antigovernment movement will spend the next eight years in prison for federal tax crimes, including fraudulent claims that the government owed him $36 million.

Glenn Richard Unger, 62, of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, was sentenced to 97 months’ imprisonment by Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution, according to an April 21 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany Division press release.

A U.S. District Court jury convicted Dr. Unger of obstructing and impeding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); filing false claims against the United States; tax evasion; and passing fictitious obligations, October 21, 2013. He was initially charged on a seven-count indictment in December 2012.

The trial evidence showed that Dr. Unger, a former orthodontist with a practice in Chatham, engaged in a multi-year scheme to obstruct and impede the IRS by filing numerous false and fraudulent claims with the IRS for payment of tax refunds totaling $36 million dollars, the release said.

Between 2007 and 2011, Dr. Unger filed 14 false tax returns claiming that he earned and reported substantial income and had substantial withholdings on that income, which entitled him to $36 million in tax refunds. Despite numerous warning letters from the IRS that his returns were frivolous, he continued filing false tax returns, the release said.

He also tried to evade paying taxes he owed to the IRS by failing to file tax returns reporting income earned in 2004 and 2005. The IRS assessed taxes for those two years and penalties for filing frivolous tax returns. After the IRS filed a tax lien against Mr. Unger, he attempted to file a false document with the Saratoga County Clerk’s office to release the lien. He also attempted to pay off a debt to another orthodontist with a fictitious document purported to be worth $200,000, the release said.

Prior to opening his orthodontics practice in Chatham, Dr. Unger, a Brooklyn native who graduated from the SUNY Buffalo School of Dentistry, maintained an orthodontics office in Potsdam for more than 10 years from 1980 to the early 1990s, according to a report in the Watertown Daily Times.

A January 8, 2013 entry in The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Hatewatch blog calls Dr. Unger a “major sovereign leader” profiled by the SPLC in 2010. “Sovereign” refers to “the antigovernment ‘sovereign citizens movement’… the FBI last year publicly identified sovereigns as part of a ‘domestic terrorist’ movement,” according to the blog.

Dr. Unger who goes by an alias of Dr. Sam Kennedy was host of an online radio show called, “Take No Prisoners” and “was one of the original ‘elders’ of the now-defunct Guardians for the free Republics, which in 2010 became the focus of an FBI investigation after the group sent letters to all 50 state governors demanding they leave office,” said the blog.

An April 2, 2013 Law Beat column by Robert Gavin in the Times Union, titled “A ‘new identity’” noted that “of all the details in the federal tax case against Glenn R. Unger… none seems quite as bizarre as the allegation that the defendant identified himself to State Police as a ‘1922 silver dollar coin.’” The statement is a reference to the belief that America has been destroyed by going off the gold standard, and creating a federal reserve system, Mark Potok, an intelligence report editor for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in the column.

In a phone interview with Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett this week, the sheriff said he was unaware of any locally-based “sovereign” activity, but said he was aware of such groups and their penchant for frivolous lawsuits.

In the FBI release announcing Dr. Unger’s sentence, Richard S. Hartunian, United States Attorney, Northern District of New York, said, “This lengthy prison sentence shows that tax defiers like Unger who use bogus tax schemes and pay debts with fictitious documents will be punished for their crimes. No one can set himself above the law for personal financial gain.”

“Those who commit tax fraud by filing false and frivolous tax returns or failing to pay taxes risk criminal prosecution resulting in prison. This sentence serves as one more example that tax defier conduct may result in severe repercussions, including imprisonment, restitution orders, and fines,” Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, said in the release.

To contact Diane Valden email .

 

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