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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Charges dropped against former mayor

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

BENTON - Scott County Prosecutor Paul Boyd has dismissed all charges against Sikeston business man and former mayor Josh Bill related to his "Corn for Cars" bartering operation.

Boyd's motion to dismiss the two class D felony charges of willfully failing to make a sales tax return and one class C felony charge of forgery filed Friday was approved by Associate Circuit Court Judge Terry Lynn Brown.

The preliminary hearing was scheduled for Monday. The charges are related to transactions conducted through Bill's company, Mid-Continent Grain, in which an amount of corn equal to the value of a motor vehicle was purchased from Bill's company by clients and traded to car dealers to avoid paying sales tax on a motor vehicle purchase.

The sales tax charges alleged Bill owed sales tax on his sale of grain to the vehicle purchasers. The forgery charge is related to Bill removing a sentence in distributed reproductions from a private letter ruling he requested from the Department of Revenue which said Bill would owe sales tax on the sale of grain to the vehicle purchasers.

The state was also seeking over $100,000 in sales tax and penalties.

"After discussion with the Department of Revenue, the state decided to dismiss his case without prejudice at this time to give the Department of Revenue time to consider their administrative or civil remedies in this case," Boyd said.

"I am, of course, very pleased with the outcome," Bill said, "but I think we should all be concerned that the Missouri Department of Revenue lured our local judicial officers into chasing this red herring. They know what the law says. That's why they've been trying to change it for the last five legislative sessions, unsuccessfully."

Bill also said the governor declared the Cars for Corn transactions a loophole and admitted the transactions are legal and that the Administrative Hearing Commission "declared Corn for Cars a means 'to avoid sales tax, lawfully,'" adding this is why the Department of Revenue circumvented the Commission.

"DOR sought a criminal indictment in a civil matter because they've been frustrated by our legal system everywhere else," Bill said.

Bill said the prosecutor was misled and given incomplete information by the Department of Revenue to get him to file the charges.

"Do I intend to resume these transactions and save people sales tax when buying cars? Absolutely," Bill said. "We'll keep doing them until, or unless, they change the law."

The case has been referred back to the Department of Revenue. "They can choose to do nothing or they can choose to assess Mr. Bill tax penalties," Boyd said.

If assessed penalties by the Department of Revenue, Bill then "has the ability to appeal the Administrative Hearing Commission, who will determine if there is actually a 'loophole' for his Cars for Corn program," Boyd said.