Heisenberg's Uncertainty: An Analysis of Criminal Tax Pretextual Prosecutions in the Context of Breaking Bad's Notorious Anti-Hero

31 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014 Last revised: 7 Nov 2014

See all articles by Scott Shimick

Scott Shimick

Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP

Date Written: February 14, 2014

Abstract

Commentators have roundly criticized pretextual prosecutions, such as prosecuting Al Capone for tax evasion rather than bootlegging, arguing that the government should minimize the use of pretextual prosecutions. However, pretextual prosecutions serve as a valuable tool for law enforcement.

In Breaking Bad, Walter White becomes a violent criminal who produces and sells narcotics. Throughout the series, he is very careful to conceal or destroy any evidence linking him to the violence and drug trafficking. However, as the bootleggers and gangsters of the Prohibition-era learned, the government holds the trump card, criminal tax prosecution. By charging drug traffickers with criminal tax fraud, the government can imprison dangerous criminals without having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drug traffickers actually produced and sold narcotics. This article examines criminal tax fraud statutes and methods of proof, analyzing these statutes and methods in the context of whether Walter White should have fled from prosecution. Through this analysis, this article demonstrates the value of pretextual criminal tax fraud prosecutions.

Keywords: Tax Fraud, Criminal Tax Fraud, Pretextual Prosecution, Tax Crimes, Bank Deposits Method, Net Worth Method, Expenditures Method, Sentencing Guidelines, Tax, Internal Revenue Code, IRS, Internal Revenue Service, Tax Division, Breaking Bad, Walter White, Heisenberg, Willfully, Willfulness, Willful

Suggested Citation

Shimick, Scott, Heisenberg's Uncertainty: An Analysis of Criminal Tax Pretextual Prosecutions in the Context of Breaking Bad's Notorious Anti-Hero (February 14, 2014). 50 Tulsa L. Rev. 43 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2465997

Scott Shimick (Contact Author)

Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP ( email )

One Commerce Plaza
Albany, NY NY 12260
United States

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