United States v. Collins, No. 11-1954 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Collins served as a city councilman and vice-mayor of East St. Louis. In 2002 he moved to the suburbs, but continued to use his previous address to vote East St. Louis and to establish residency for election to as precinct committeeman for the Democratic Party. Federal agents checked tax filings to verify his residency and discovered that Collins had not filed federal or state income tax returns for almost two decades. Convicted of multiple counts of tax evasion, willful failure to file tax returns, and voter fraud, he was given a within-guidelines sentence of 50 months. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court used pattern jury instructions for tax evasion, which properly define the required element of willfulness and need no clarification to distinguish tax evasion from negligent failure to file. It is not “remotely plausible” to attribute tax delinquency of almost two decades to negligence. The court properly stated Illinois law regarding requirements for establishing voting residency. The evidence was “easily sufficient” to support the verdict. Collins did not file tax returns, and to hide his income, commingled personal and business accounts, used a false Employer Identification Number, and misappropriated the Social Security Number of his deceased business partner.