United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
JOHN K. STEELE, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge.
John Steele, proceeding pro se, originally filed this action
in the Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas on July
25, 2019. (Doc. 1-3; see also Doc. 4). He named as
defendants the United States, "assessment officer"
Benjamin F. Ray, Department of Justice (DOJ) witness Rebecca
Pomatto, United States District Court Judge Gregory F. Van
Tatenhove, and United States Attorney General William P.
Barr. The United States, which is represented by the DOJ,
removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1442. (Doc. I). Plaintiff moved to remand the
matter to state court on September 10, 2019. (Doc. 5). The
United States opposes plaintiffs motion to remand. (Doc.
Allegations of the complaint
complaint alleges that defendants violated his federal
constitutional and other rights in the course of a prior
civil suit which the United States brought against him on
behalf of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for failure to
pay federal income taxes. See United States v.
Steele, No. 3:16-cv-00095, 2018 WL 298778 (E.D. Ky. Jan.
3, 2018) (the federal tax case). In support of a motion for
partial summary judgment filed in that case, the United
States provided Certificates of Assessment for ten tax years
and a sworn statement by Pomatto, an IRS Revenue Officer,
setting forth Steele's total indebtedness to the United
States. (Id. at *2). Judge Van Tatenhove granted the
United States' motion and found that plaintiff was
"indebted to the United States for unpaid federal income
taxes, penalties, and interest in the amount of $2, 861,
096.54 as of October 31, 2016." (Id. at *3).
Judge Van Tatenhove granted a consent motion for the
disbursement of funds (See No. 3:16-00095, Doc. 117)
and dismissed the lawsuit on September 3, 2019 (Id.,
Doc. 118). Plaintiff appealed the Court's Order on Motion
for Disbursement of Funds to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on October 2, 2019. (Doc. 119).
asserts in this lawsuit that both the federal and state
courts have jurisdiction under the United States and Ohio
Constitutions over the claims he brings. (Doc. 4 at 6-8).
Plaintiff brings his claims under the Ohio Constitution and
federal statutory and constitutional law. (Doc. 4 at 8-15).
Plaintiff alleges that his claims are based on various
provisions of the United States Constitution related to the
power to tax; the "uniformity clause"; and the
Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search
and seizure; the right to due process; and the right to trial
by jury. (Id. at 9-12).
claims that defendants attempted to extort him "under
color of law" and "under color of office" by
engaging in unconstitutional taxation practices in the
absence of legitimate subject matter jurisdiction or legal
authority. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that defendant
committed "unconstitutional acts" and violated 18
U.S.C. § 872, which criminalizes acts of extortion by
federal officers or employees. (Id.).
claims that defendant IRS agents and officers committed
criminal forgery, which voids the judgment against him in the
federal tax case. (Doc. 4 at 14-15, 25-26). Plaintiff alleges
that the revenue officers and IRS agents named as defendants
"forg[ed] the unauthorized signatures(s) of other
persons" on the "Notice(s) of Federal Tax
Lien(s)" which formed the basis for the federal civil
judgment against him. He contends defendants did so
"[b]y using, without authorization, a facsimile image of
signatures, instead of using their own signature on the
Notice of Federal tax Liens." (Doc. 4 at 14-15, citing
Exh. A). Plaintiff alleges that in doing so, "the Agents
and Officers have acted only under color of law and color
office [sic] (under IRC § 7608(a))." (Id.).
Plaintiff alleges that the IRS employees violated both
"federal and State law," and they do not have a
legitimate defense available to them under IRC §§
7608(a) and 6321because forgery is not an authorized
activity. (Id. at 15). Plaintiff argues that he will
suffer great and irreparable injury if the forged documents
that the district court relied upon in the "previous,
related litigation" to award judgment to the United
Sates can be enforced as legal claims in Kentucky "state
land records, offices, and courts." (Id.).
claims that defendants have committed fraud in violation of
numerous provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and federal
IRS regulations. (Id. at 10-12, 24-25). He also
contends that defendants have violated his constitutional
property rights, his rights to equal protection and due
process of law, and his right to be secure in his person and
property. (Id. at 25). Plaintiff further claims that
defendants and the IRS have enforced and continue to enforce
an "unauthorized direct unapportioned tax under the 16th
Amendment," and they have attempted to subject him to a
"prohibited condition of peonage debt service" and
involuntary servitude in violation of the 13th Amendment and
"both Constitutions, under color of law and color of
office." (Doc. 4 at 22, 26-27). He claims defendants
violated his rights in the federal tax case by refusing to
recognize his rights to a jury trial and to produce evidence
favorable to him during the proceedings. (Mat 18-21).
sums up his allegations and claims as follows:
Defendants have extortionately committed unlawful threats of
force; and are attempting to enforce VOID judgments issued by
a federal court lacking subject matter jurisdiction under the
16th Amendment and Article 1, to enforce any direct taxation
claims made under alleged authority of the 16th Amendment,
for lack of granted enabling enforcement powers thereunder.
Thus, unlawfully converting private property in the states of
Ohio and Kentucky, under both color of law and color of
office, in [sic] blatant multiple violations of the
plaintiffs numerous constitutional rights as here-in-above
enumerated and articulated under both Constitutions.
(Id. at 27).
on these allegations, plaintiff brings claims for
"fraud, attempted extortion, conversion, conspiracy,
peonage, involuntary servitude, and for violations of due
process, private property, and the Right to a trial by
jury" under the Ohio Constitution and the Constitution
and laws of the United States. (Id.). Plaintiff
requests a jury trial which will afford him due process and
remedy the federal and state constitutional and statutory
violations defendants have allegedly committed; compensatory
and punitive damages; an order requiring defendants to comply
with the United States Constitution and the Internal Revenue
Code; and all other relief the Court deems proper to make
plaintiff whole. (Id. at 27-28).
Removal and ...