Idaho lawmaker’s status unclear after Texas conviction

Posted at 3:28 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 19:44:36-05

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A member of the Idaho House of Representatives said Wednesday he won’t resign following his conviction in Texas of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Republican Rep. John Green of Post Falls said he plans to be back in the Idaho Statehouse on Monday to represent his northern Idaho constituents. A judge released him with no bond, though he’s not allowed to travel outside the country.

“I’m going to finish my term, and we’ll see what happens,” Green said in a phone interview with The Associated Press shortly after the conviction.

Green, 60, said he plans to appeal his Wednesday conviction by the Texas jury and will have time to serve out the rest of his term. He said he’s not planning to defend the seat in this year’s election because he’ll likely be sent to prison.

“I’ll probably get sent to do some time,” he said.

The charges stemmed from helping a wealthy Texas couple hide assets to avoid paying income taxes. Green maintains his innocence.

“I’ve been an attorney for 30 years, and I know how these things go,” he said. “It is what it is. A lot of innocent people get convicted.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Thomas Selgas and his wife owed $1.1 million in outstanding taxes that Selgas refused to pay. The department said that when the IRS tried to collect the outstanding taxes, Selgas concealed funds by using Green’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account. Such an account is used by a lawyer to hold money in trust for clients. The department said that in this case, Green used it illegally to help Thomas Selgas not pay taxes.

Thomas Selgas was also convicted of conspiring to defraud the United States as well as tax evasion. Selgas’ wife, Michelle Selgas, was acquitted of those two charges.

U.S. District Judge Karen Gren Scholer will set sentencing at a later date. Green faces up to five years in prison.

Green’s status in the House isn’t completely clear. Republican House Majority Leader Mike Moyle said there’s a process to remove a lawmaker, but he wants to talk to Green and learn more details.

“I think it’s just too premature to even discuss that,” Moyle said. “It could change if somebody in this body chose to try to have him removed, and that would take a vote of the House.”

According to Idaho’s Constitution, two-thirds of the House’s members must vote to expel a lawmaker.

Moyle, who is his in his 11th term in the House, said that process has never been used while he’s been a lawmaker.