A Davidsonville woman who had received one of the toughest sentences ever given for failing to file state income tax returns had her sentence reduced yesterday because she had paid her back taxes.
Carol-Ann R. Baker, 52, had been sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined $6,000 in October for failing to file state income tax returns from 1986 to 1988. Her husband, David Bruce Baker, received 12 years and a $12,000 fine for failing to file returns from 1985 to 1988.
In imposing those sentences, Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner told the couple he would "substantially reduce" the punishment if they filed their returns and paid their back taxes. Carol-Ann Baker told the judge she was willing to pay the $2,650 she owed, and when she followed through on her promise, Lerner reduced her sentence.
He sentenced the woman to a year in jail with work-release privileges and fined her $1,500. She has obtained a job as an office worker for a moving company.
The judge also said she must pay $976 toward the cost of extraditing her and her husband. The couple, convicted on all seven counts during a three-day jury trial in June, failed to appear at a sentencing hearing in August. They were arrested in October after being stopped for speeding in Memphis, Tenn.
Lerner told the woman yesterday he believed she was a "follower," misled by her husband, who had challenged the legality of the tax system.
"I sincerely believe you are a very nice person," Lerner said. "You come from a very nice family. You've just been misled. I don't know what the story is with your husband. I guess he's out to prove something."
Karen J. Kruger, an assistant attorney general who prosecuted the case, said David Baker has not filed any tax returns or paid the $2,855 he owes in taxes. She said he has not appealed his conviction but has filed a pleading with a state appeals court claiming he should be released because he is suffering from cruel and unusual punishment.
She said he also continues to claim in the pleading that the tax statutes should be voided because they are too vague.