Judge clears way for dinosaur park to be seized
A federal judge has cleared the way for the government's seizure of a creationism theme park in Pensacola owned by a couple convicted of tax fraud.
A ruling by U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers states that the nine properties that make up Dinosaur Adventure Land as well as two bank accounts associated with the park will be used to satisfy $430,400 owed to the federal government.
Kent Hovind, who founded the park and a ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, is serving 10 years in federal prison for failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $470,000 in employee taxes.
He was found guilty in November 2006 on 58 counts, including failure to pay employee taxes and making threats against investigators.
The conviction culminated 17 years of Hovind sparring with the IRS. Saying he was employed by God and his ministers were not subject to payroll taxes, he claimed no income or property.
Hovind is incarcerated at the Edgefield Federal Correction Institution in South Carolina.
His wife, Jo, also was sentenced to a year in federal prison for her role in the tax fraud. She's currently jailed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Marianna.
Rodgers' 16-page order released late Thursday gives the government the green light to divide up the nine properties in and around the 5800 block of North Palafox Street and begin to sell them until the $430,400 forfeiture amount is satisfied.
The properties have a combined value of more than what the Hovinds owe, according to Rodgers' order, and any excess property available after the sales will be returned to the Hovinds.
The Hovinds' son, Eric, and business associate Glenn Stoll unsuccessfully tried to block the government's attempt to seize the properties. They said they are the legal owners.
Only Eric Hovind, who has managed the park since his father's incarceration, was successful in his claim, according to Rodgers' order.
Stoll said he owned nine of the 10 properties in question, according to a motion filed with the court. Eric Hovind claimed ownership of a single property, where he lives with his family. He will be allowed to keep the Cummings Road home.
Kent Hovind made a series of quick transfers to conceal his ownership of the properties at risk for seizure, according to documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Eric Hovind was not available for comment Friday. His secretary said he could not be reached until Monday.
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