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State v. Steed

Court of Appeals of Utah

January 6, 2017

State of Utah, Appellee and Cross-appellant,
v.
Joan A. Steed and Frank J. Steed, Appellants and Cross-appellees.

         Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Robin W. Reese No. 081907873

          Max D. Wheeler, Rodney R. Parker, and Richard A. Van Wagoner, Attorneys for Appellants and Cross-appellees

          Sean D. Reyes, Bridget K. Romano, and Stanford E. Purser, Attorneys for Appellee and Cross-appellant

          Scott H. Sweat and Tyler J. Berg, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Wasatch County

          Judge Kate A. Toomey authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.

          OPINION

          TOOMEY, Judge.

         ¶1 Joan A. Steed and Frank J. Steed appeal the district court's order denying the refund of tax penalties and interest, as well as incarceration and probation costs after their convictions for failure to file tax returns were reversed.[1] We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         BACKGROUND[2]

         ¶2 The Steeds were convicted of three counts of failure to file tax returns and one count of conducting a pattern of unlawful activity. Prior to sentencing, the Steeds agreed to accept the Utah State Tax Commission's determination of past-due taxes owed for purposes of calculating restitution. Mr. Steed was sentenced to zero to five years in prison on each count of the failure to file tax returns. In addition, Mr. Steed was sentenced to one to fifteen years in prison for the pattern-of-unlawful-activity conviction and fined $5, 300. These prison sentences were stayed and the district court imposed a total of six years of probation[3] and ordered him to serve 365 days in Salt Lake County jail as a term of the probation. Mr. Steed was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of the tax owed for the years he did not file a tax return, a ten percent failure-to-file fee, a ten percent late-payment fee, and interest.

         ¶3 Mrs. Steed was also sentenced to zero to five years in prison for each of the three counts of failure to file a tax return and one to fifteen years in prison for the pattern-of-unlawful-activity conviction. She was also ordered to pay a $140, 298 fine pursuant to the pattern-of-unlawful-activity statute.[4] These sentences were stayed and Mrs. Steed was placed on probation for a total of six years and ordered to serve 180 days in the Salt Lake County jail after her husband was released.[5] Like Mr. Steed, Mrs. Steed was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of the taxes owed for the years she did not file a tax return, an additional twenty percent in penalties, and interest.

         ¶4 The court clarified that the amount of restitution it ordered for taxes due was based on "the figures that were developed by the State Tax Commission, " which "both sides had agreed that they would accept." The court asked that the Steeds' accountant and the Commission's accountant work together to determine the penalties and interest portion of the restitution.

         ¶5 Because of Mr. Steed's poor health, the Steeds requested that they be able to serve their jail terms "where they live."[6] The court ordered Mr. Steed to notify the court within two weeks whether he had "made arrangements at his own expense to serve the time in the Duchesne County jail" or report to the Salt Lake County jail in thirty days.

         ¶6 Mr. Steed reported to the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center but was transferred to the Wasatch County jail to "serve the remainder of his 365 day jail sentence."[7] The order approving Mr. Steed's transfer to the Wasatch County jail stated, "The defendant shall sign and be bound by any such conditions contained in a contract of confinement by and between [him] and Wasatch County, including per diem costs, work release conditions and any [and] all such costs and conditions of confinement and release imposed by Wasatch County." Mrs. Steed was also transferred to the Wasatch County jail and served her sentence under the same terms.

         ¶7 The Steeds appealed their convictions, and our supreme court concluded "there was insufficient evidence to support the verdicts" and reversed and remanded the case "with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal." State v. Steed, 2014 UT 16, ¶¶ 2, 55, 325 P.3d 87. On remand, the Steeds moved for the district court to order a refund of the tax penalties and interest, fines, and costs associated with incarceration and probation as part of its judgment of acquittal.[8] The court ordered a refund of the fines for the pattern-of-unlawful-activity counts but denied a return of the tax penalties and interest and the costs of incarceration and probation. The Steeds appeal.

         ISSUES AND STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         ¶8 The Steeds contend due process "requires restoration of all funds taken from or paid by [them] as a result of the now-reversed convictions." These funds fall into three categories: money paid to the Utah State Tax Commission for penalties and interest on back taxes, money paid to Wasatch County pursuant to a private incarceration contract, and money paid to Adult Probation and Parole for probation services. The court gave different legal reasons for denying the refund of these different costs, and "[w]e review a district court's ...


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