A federal judge sentenced self-styled doomsday prophet Ronald Weinland to three-and-a-half years in prison on November 14th for failing to pay taxes on income he earned while running a worldwide ministry from his Union home for more than a decade.
U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves also ordered the 63-year-old to pay $245,176 in back taxes and a $7,000 fine. Weinland was found guilty in June of five counts of income tax evasion for failing to pay taxes on $4.4 million in income from 2004 through 2007, according to court records.
"Weinland exploited ... members' devotion to him as the Prophet," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBride wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Weinland's scheme, lasting many years, perverted his role as a religious leader serving his church to a minister who used his church for financial gain and to escape his tax liabilities."
U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves had received nearly 200 letters from around the world asking for leniency with Weinland. Followers say he helped them through drug addictions or financial hardships.
Weinland's ministry is known as the Church of God — Preparing for the Kingdom of God (PKG). He has told followers that society is in its "final days" and predicts the return of Jesus Christ on May 19, 2013, though he had previously projected May 27, 2012, as the return.
The moral of the story is that even when the world ends, the IRS will get their money.