Judge denies early release for 72-year-old tax dodger who tested positive for coronavirus in federal prison

A judge has denied tax dodger Winston Shrout’s request for early release from prison, finding that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has properly managed Shrout’s coronavirus and he appears to have recovered.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones found the 72-year-old hadn’t proven that his medical condition rose to an “extraordinary and compelling” reason warranting a sentence reduction.

Even if his medical condition did warrant release, the judge said he would have rejected Shrout’s proposed release plan, which called for him to remain on home confinement in a trailer in Utah.

Jones noted that Shrout, given the chance to surrender after he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for tax fraud, failed to turn himself in and was taken into custody on an arrest warrant in Arizona after a nationwide search.

“Shrout has proven by his behavior that his promises are meaningless. He lied to the Court and the probation officer when he promised that he would self-report to prison,‘’ Jones wrote in his ruling. “There are no combinations of conditions the Court could impose that would ensure that Shrout would remain in home confinement and compliant with the other general and special conditions.”

Shrout was sentenced Oct. 22, 2018, after a federal jury in Oregon convicted him of six misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file tax returns and 13 felony counts of producing, presenting and shipping fictitious financial instruments.

Shrout, part of the sovereign citizen movement, made and issued more than 300 fake “International Bills of Exchange” on his own behalf and for credit to third parties. The government said Shrout falsely claimed the bills had value and purported that they were worth more than $100 trillion. Shrout also testified at trial that he stopped paying income tax or filing income tax returns “well over 20 years ago.”

He was scheduled to start serving his 10-year sentence March 4, 2019. He was a fugitive until he was arrested in Arizona on a warrant on Nov. 1, 2019.

Shrout, who suffers from hypertension, heart disease, lung ailments and is overweight, is among the 70 percent of inmates at the Terminal Island prison in California who have contracted the virus, according to his lawyer. Eight inmates have died there — the federal prison with the second-highest death toll in the nation, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ruben Iñiguez told the court last week.

Shrout was infected less than two months after he arrived at Terminal Island. “He has already tested positive and may become re-infected,‘’ Iñiguez said last week. “We simply don’t know how that will end up for him. The risk where I sit is too great to gamble on his life.‘’

A swab was taken on April 23 and the results came back positive two days later. Shrout was quarantined from April 30 to May 2, according to court records.

— Maxine Bernstein

Email at mbernstein@oregonian.com; 503-221-8212

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian https://twitter.com/maxoregonian

Subscribe to Facebook page

Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts for the latest news and top stories.

Coronavirus in Oregon: Latest news | Live map tracker |Text alerts | Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *