ORLANDO – A judge has given political consultant Doug Guetzloe until Friday to hire an attorney to represent him in a federal case involving past tax returns.
Guetzloe will be arraigned on Friday in the chambers of U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald P. Dietrich in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida.
Guetzloe was at the courthouse, located in downtown Orlando, this morning for his arraignment. Last month, the government filed the case, known as the United States of America versus Douglas Guetzloe, charging the Orlando resident with two misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns in 2005 and 2006. Guetzloe has denied the charges.
During the very brief hearing at the federal courthouse, Guetzloe told the judge that he was still in the process of finding an attorney to represent him in this case. He asked for the arraignment to be postponed until he can finish interviewing attorneys and decide which one should represent him.
“I’m in the process of finding counsel,” Guetzloe said. That process had been delayed, Guetzloe said, because of the recent five weeks he spent in the Orange County jail.
“I did not get out of incarceration until last Wednesday,” Guetzloe told the judge, adding that he was now requesting a “possible postponement of arraignment until I can obtain counsel.”
Judge Dietrich granted the request, giving Guetzloe until Friday to hire an attorney.
Because the case involves two misdemeanor charges, it never went before a grand jury and Guetzloe was released on his own recognizance during his first court appearance on June 8. At the time, Guetzloe was still in the custody of the Orange County jail, serving a 60-day sentence. At that hearing, Judge Dietrich declined to set bail and instead released Guetzloe back to the Orange County jail, but with conditions that he would have to abide by, including surrending his passport to the court.
This morning, Guetzloe asked the judge if he could travel to Tallahassee next month.
“According to my bond, I’m not allowed to travel out of the middle district,” which covers most of Central Florida but does not include the state capital, he said. With no objection from U.S. Attorney Roger Hamberg, who is prosecuting this case, the judge granted the request.
The judge also said he would set a status conference on this case for Friday.
“The proceeding is your arraignment on a two count misdemeanor,” the judge said, “in order to ensure that the trial proceeds to the calendar on Aug. 1.”
Guetzloe had been in Orange County jail from May 11 to June 22, after he had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of violating Florida election laws. The case involved a political flyer he sent out in 2006 during a Winter Park mayoral election. Guetzloe failed to include the term ‘paid electioneering communication’ on the ad as required by Florida law, or put his name on it as the person who paid for the ad.
The judge in that case, Jeffrey Arnold, sentenced him to 60 days in jail. Guetzloe appealed, but Judge Arnold ordered Guetzloe to report to the Orange County jail by noon on May 11, and imposed a $1,000 fine on the political consultant, and $50 in court costs.
Guetzloe was taking part in a work release program when he was brought back into custody at the jail pending the federal charges.
“The timing of this was not coincidental,” Guetzloe said on Monday, during an interview with Freeline Media. He also said he doesn’t expect to face any jail or prison time for the federal charges, which he plans to vigorously fight.
“The reality of the judicial system is that after a four and a half year investigation, the only thing they can say is ‘We don’t think he filed his taxes,’ ” Guetzloe said. “The charge is failure to file. It is the lowest level accusation they can make.”
In addition to being a well-known conservative political activist and founder of the Ax the Tax grass roots organization, Guetzloe is the founder of The Phoenix Network, a radio station that broadcasts live over the Internet, through a host Web site, www.PhoenixNetwork.US. Guetzloe has returned to the station and to his role as host of The Guetzloe Report, an hour-long radio program that’s broadcast daily at 11 a.m.
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