The Oklahoma Tax Commission is asking a judge to shut down the attorney handling the appeal of convicted murderer Jerome Jay Ersland.
The attorney, Doug Friesen, of Oklahoma City, said Thursday, “I'm going to stay open. I'm not going anywhere.”
Ersland, 61, is the former pharmacist serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a wounded, unarmed robber inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City in 2009. Friesen is asking the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn the murder conviction.
The Tax Commission claims Friesen has failed for years to send to the state taxes withheld from employees' paychecks.
He owed $179,725 in withholding tax, penalties and interest as of Aug. 30, the agency's attorneys told Oklahoma County District Judge Roger Stuart in a petition filed Tuesday.
Businesses are supposed to remit withholding taxes to the state, Tax Commission spokeswoman Paula Ross said. “It's not their money to keep.”
Friesen also has not filed all required franchise tax returns and business activity tax returns and may owe the state more, Tax Commission attorneys reported.
They are asking the judge for an order preventing Friesen's law offices “from any and all business operations.” They want the judge to keep the injunction in place until Friesen posts a bond. No hearing date has been set.
The Tax Commission also alleges Friesen failed to file personal state tax returns on income in 2003, 2005 and 2011. The agency alleges he owes $6,890 in delinquent personal income taxes.
Friesen insisted Thursday he filed all his required business and personal tax returns.
“There has just been some kind of misfiling, mishandling, whatever, of the paperwork,” he said. “I do not know why they don't have them over there. I sent them in all of the years.”
He also said he is not getting credited for all the payments he has made on overdue withholding taxes.
“There has been a mix-up in the accounting in reference to those,” he said.
“I did get behind on some of the taxes a few years ago. I was making payments on those. For whatever reason, there is a … miscommunication between the firm that was making the collections and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. For whatever reason … those didn't get credited,” he said.
“What we're fussing about is the outstanding amount,” he said.
He estimated he is only behind $5,000 to $6,000 on withholding taxes.
The attorney spoke by cellphone Thursday driving back from visiting Ersland in prison.
Appealing murder conviction
An Oklahoma County jury last year found Ersland guilty of first-degree murder for killing Antwun Parker, 16.
Ersland was a pharmacist employed at the store and was there with two other employees, both women.
In surveillance recordings admitted as evidence at trial, Ersland can be seen shooting the unarmed robber, Parker, in the head inside the pharmacy. Ersland then chases away the other robber who was armed.
Ersland then comes back inside the store, walks over to Parker, who has fallen, gets a second gun and shoots Parker five more times in the body, according to the surveillance recordings. Jurors rejected his claim that he was defending himself and the other employees.
Ersland's pharmacist license expired after he went to prison last year.