The Words of the McKenzie Family

Father Sentenced But Vows Victorious Appeal

Hal McKenzie
July 1982

Calling a sentence of 18 months in jail against the Rev. Sun Myung Moon "unconstitutional," defense lawyers vowed to appeal to a higher court, where they felt confident that the verdict and sentence would be reversed.

On July 16, Judge Gerard Goettel at the Manhattan District Court also fined Father the maximum of $25,000 as well as court costs, which Goettel said would add up to more than the fine. The News World estimated earlier that the prosecution had spent $1.3 million during the eight-week trial and grand jury investigation.

Father remains free on $200,000 bond pending appeal. Goettel said he did not expect Rev. Moon would attempt to flee the country and told his attorneys he would consider allowing him to travel outside the United States if the attorneys request it at a later date.

Mr. Kamiyama, the co-defendant, was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $5,000. He was convicted of taking part in a conspiracy to conceal the tax fraud, perjury and obstructing the government investigation.

The judge said he had considered a number of possibilities and concluded that the crime charged against Rev. Moon "require some sentence as a general deterrent.

"Otherwise," the judge said, "millions will say that the poor go to jail and the rich and powerful who can afford lawyers like those who represented Mr. Moon go free."

Dressed in a gray business suit, white shirt and lavender tie, Father took the sentence, as he did his conviction, with no visible sign of emotion. He sat during the proceedings with his head slightly cocked toward his Korean interpreter and his eyes closed. After the sentencing he smiled and shook hands with his lawyers. He then attempted to shake the hand of prosecutor Martin Flumenbaum, but Flumenbaum spurned the gesture.

Father's attorneys had urged Goettel not to send him to jail. "The man has been punished enough by our system," said defense lawyer Charles Stillman. "A prison sentence will merely satisfy the public blood lust for Rev. Moon."

In a statement after the sentencing, Mose Durst, president of the Unification Church of America, said, "Our struggle is on behalf of all Americans, for the precious right to believe and practice the religion of their choice free of government harassment and oppression."

Tribe's Statement Before Judge

Excerpts of remarks made by attorney Laurence Tribe for Rev. Moon before Judge Gerard Goettel July 16.

Your Honor, this court on Wednesday remarked that Rev. Moon is sui generis and that his case is unique, and with that surely I think we must agree. But I think we must ask in considering an appropriate sentence -- which we believe should not include imprisonment -- what sort of unique man is this.

This court knows, of course, that he is first of all the sort of man who was aware of the widespread hostility and misunderstanding of his views in the United States, but who nonetheless returned voluntarily from Korea to submit himself to the jurisdiction of this court and to the judicial system of the United States, in which he has great confidence.

He is, secondly, the sort of man about whom his eldest daughter, Ye Jin, who wrote to this court, "Impressions of our father to all of us children have been that of strong faith, gentleness and endurance. I and other children have witnessed many nights where he would sit on the Holy Rock sleepless and lost in deep and tearful prayers. When we would ask why he is out in the dark alone, his answer was that 'when God is lonely and crying out for the wretched world, how can I sleep?'"

He is indeed the sort of man about whom the probation officer assigned this case could conclude that "to evaluate Rev. Moon's character by these criminal proceedings solely is to do him an injustice. He gives every indication of being a dedicated and zealous man whose public life and sense of mission has given support and meaning to many of his believers. He enjoys a commendable private life while he seemingly labors daily to disseminate his message. Not only does he have a multinational membership, but his theological teachings have begun to be seriously examined by theologians of many churches."

In that connection, I would urge this court to keep in mind that if all that the government charged against Rev. Moon is accepted as true, then we do have here something of a mysterious case. For this defendant, the government is right, is the sort of man who would labor and indeed conspire to convince the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice that over $1.5 million placed in his hands by his church and its members, actually belongs in trust to that church world-wide -- instead of belonging to him and to his heirs, as the government claims.

If you ask what could motivate such a permanent renunciation of personal ownership, it is intriguing to note the government's theory: that he did it as a shrewd businessman to save over $150,000 in taxes.

But I ask this court what sort of businessman would renounce all claims to unlimited personal ownership of $1.5 million to save $150,000 in taxes? Some businessman!

I find it impossible to escape the conclusion that the motive here, whatever one may think of the offense, was far more complex. I find it impossible to escape the conclusion of one of the many religious leaders of other denominations who have written to this court, the conclusion that whatever Rev. Moon did, he was motivated by, and I quote the letter of Dean Kelly of the National Council of Churches, "his messianic visions of a better world," and that that motive puts him in a wholly different category from those seeking to benefit themselves at the expense of others.

I should like to talk briefly to the question, given this kind of man, what would a jail term mean? What would a sentence of imprisonment mean in dealing with a situation of this kind?

To Rev. Moon I think it is plain that the message it would carry, rightly or wrongly, is a message of religious persecution, perhaps a message that God meant for him to preach in prison to dramatize the plight of persecuted minorities.

What would it mean to his millions of followers around the world? To them Rev. Moon in jail would, first, be a statement that their spiritual leader had chosen jail as an alternative to betraying the faith of those who entrusted funds to him, for he could always have said easily that they were his own, though he believed that they were not.

It would for them be a punishment for the entire religion. Your Honor will recall the affidavit signed by the presidents of 40 Unification Churches around the world saying simply, but I think poignantly "to imprison him is to imprison us all."

It is, of course, common in sentencing to take account of the severity and breadth of impact not only on the accused but upon others when someone is imprisoned. Whatever else may be the case, it is surely plain that Rev. Moon's personal role in face-to-face contact with the leaders of his faith would make his absence a severe deprivation to their religious practice.

Surely that does not immunize him from the force of the law, but just as this court would always take account of the impact, it is fully relevant here.

What would his imprisonment mean to the hundreds of religious leaders of other faiths that your Honor indicated had written to this court informing the court of their concern about this trial, of their belief, right or wrong, that the practices in which Rev. Moon engaged with respect to his funds -- funds that he believes were being held for the church and not for himself as a secular person -- do not differ in their view from practices common in other faiths?

I believe that to them a jail term would send a chill through the religious community. Rightly or wrongly, to them it would say, "There but for the grace of the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Attorney's office go we. If our religious beliefs and practices should fall into disfavor, perhaps we, too, will find that what we all believe is true of our assets when we entrust them to our leaders will be second-guessed by Internal Revenue officials or by a jury."

What would his imprisonment mean to the vast army of detractors of Rev. Moon, and they are legion -- the millions who accept the fantasy, as I believe it to be fantasy, of an empire build on brainwashed flower children– many of whom were in favor of jailing him before hearing a word of evidence?

To them I think it is clear that a jailed Rev. Moon would represent good riddance, a lesson that the government finally got him for something, who cares for what.

Finally, what would imprisonment for Rev. Moon mean to those furtive capitalists and labor leaders and business executives who flirt with the idea of cheating the United States Treasury with homemade tax loopholes? I believe it to be the government's theory that it would be an object lesson for such would-be free-riders on the U.S. Treasury, but I think that is inherently incredible. For those who flirt with the idea of cheating on their taxes, a jailed Rev. Moon would mean, I submit, absolutely nothing.

Rightly or wrongly, they would view his imprisonment, if they thought about it at all, as the price he paid for running a church whose members he marries by the thousands in Madison Square Garden as part of the faith they find bizarre -- not as proof that tax crime does not pay.

Surely if Rev. Moon is dealt with leniently by this court, it would not follow that those who want to cheat the government would decide that a clever trick is to keep over a million dollars in the Chase Manhattan Bank in their own name. That is not likely to strike very many shrewd businessmen as the best way to cheat the IRS -- not while the Swiss banks are still operating.

It seems to us, your Honor, that in terms of the purposes of the criminal law, even if you believe this to be a just conviction, incarceration would be counterproductive, it would make no sense. So, whether or not I am right that the Constitution should lead to a reversing of this conviction, we believe it clear that a lenient sentence, suspended with no imprisonment, is the logical outcome in this case.

Points Of Appeal

Equal protection of the law.

Tribe said other religious leaders submitted affidavits showing that they commonly hold church funds in bank accounts under their names just as Rev. Moon did, but without being prosecuted.

Tribe also cited a letter written by Sen. Robert Dole in Jan. 1976 to the head of the IRS repeating allegations of "brainwashing" and calling for an IRS investigation of the church as evidence that the government set out to "get" Rev. Moon.

Freedom of speech.

The government insisted on a jury trial despite defense objections on the grounds that a jury was needed to counter Rev. Moon's remarks at a Foley Square rally accusing the government of racial and religious prejudice against him, in effect punishing him for exercising his right of free speech.

Freedom of religion.

Tribe argued that the government violated church members' religious rights by ruling that the money they donated to Rev. Moon to advance their religion was only for his personal benefit.

The government also engaged in a "secret trial" of Rev. Moon's religion, Tribe alleged, by inserting into the record allusions to members calling Rev. Moon "master" or "father," and by quoting from segments of Rev. Moon's speeches as evidence that the church's beliefs encouraged fraud and blind obedience to Rev. Moon. Such quotes, taken out of context, only served to play up to the jury's religious prejudice and put Rev. Moon's religion on trial, Tribe said.

From the News World 

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