Taxes, Shmaxes! (OR: Hey Fresno! Guess What The CCSPCA Has Been Doing With YOUR Taxes?)

Remember my last post? I'm guessing lots of you do, because the tally of people reading it keeps climbing. The numbers are now far beyond anything else I've ever posted. But I digress... 

Here's the real scoop: I recently unearthed a decision issued by the United States Tax Court that fills in a lot of blanks in that story. More importantly, the court's ruling verifies many of the conclusions I reached in my previous story about Leroy Combs, former (and frequent) member of the CCSPCA Board of Directors and – by its own admission – one of the shelter's highest paid vendors. The decision also raises lots and lots of questions about who knew (or knows) what in local government and why they've been silent about these gross abuses of taxpayer money.

As far as I can now determine from the facts I've discovered (to date), it's possible that Leroy Combs has not paid ANY FEDERAL INCOME TAXES SINCE 1994. During that time, Combs repeatedly held a seat on the CCSPCA's decision making board AND they PAID HIM HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN TAXPAYER MONEY FOR "PRINTING SERVICES." 

Here is a link to the U.S. Tax Court's 2001 ruling:


Since the IRS first ruled against Combs in this case in 2000 and this particular decision was issued in 2001 (more than ten years ago), I find it impossible to believe that the rest of the CCSPCA's Board did not know what was going on. Yet they not only allowed Combs to remain on the BOD, they continued to pay him money when he had already been found guilty of – according to the Court – trying to hide all of his income in one of seven "trusts" he and his wife had previously set up.

Why do I believe that Mr. Combs continues to refuse to pay Federal Income Tax? In January of this year, the government filed ANOTHER tax complaint against him. (After which, Mr. Combs went on KMJ radio REPRESENTING THE CCSPCA, along with Executive Director Linda Van Kirk and Beth Caffrey – thus demonstrating the shelter's continuing relationship with him.)

The complaint filed by the Internal Revenue Service in 2000 begins with the agency's own findings:

"By notice dated May 24, 2000, respondent [the Internal Revenue Service] determined a $298,992 deficiency, a $74,598 section 6651(a) addition to tax, and a $59,798 section 6662(a) penalty relating to petitioners’ 1994 Federal income tax. All section references are to the Internal Revenue Code in effect for the year in issue. The issues for decision are whether petitioners failed to report income for 1994 and are liable for a section 6651 addition to tax, a section 6662 accuracy-related penalty, and a section 6673 penalty for advancing frivolous and groundless arguments."

Here's how Combs and his wife first got themselves into trouble:

“In 1994, petitioners created, and diverted their taxable income to, seven trusts. Petitioners funded the trusts with their real property and businesses, including rental properties, two day care centers, and a print shop. Payments for services rendered, rental income, and other funds were deposited in the trusts’ bank accounts. Petitioners drew numerous checks on these accounts. Petitioners, on May 30, 1997, filed their 1994 income tax return and reported no Federal income tax liability.”

When the IRS audited Combs' 1994 returns (IN 2000!), it “disallowed their unsubstantiated deductions, determined income and self-employment tax deficiencies,” levied additional taxes and imposed a penalty.

Naturally, Combs and his wife refused to pay. To make matters worse, the couple also refused to cooperate with the Court in any way concerning the case against them. (HEY. THAT BEHAVIOR SOUNDS REALLY FAMILIAR, DOESN'T IT? I THINK A CERTAIN ANIMAL SHELTER JUST BEHAVED EXACTLY THE SAME WAY WHEN IT WAS INVESTIGATED BY THE FRESNO COUNTY GRAND JURY. IT LOOKS LIKE THEY LEARNED A FEW LESSONS FROM MR. COMBS.)

Then, Combs got further on the wrong side of the judge when he began asserting his beliefs under the “Sovereign Citizen” nonsense he ascribes to. (And which, you will remember, makes him a member of a growing “domestic terrorist movement” according to the FBI.):

“Despite several warnings by this Court, Mr. Combs persistently asserted why he believes taxes are unconstitutional.”

These are examples of illegal license plates used by members of the Sovereign Citizen movement.
(Photo: Courtesy the FBI's website.)

In the end, the Court determined there was only one reason to start seven trusts and then divert all of your money and property into them – while still writing checks from those accounts: 

“Petitioners instituted these proceedings primarily for delay, repeatedly advanced frivolous and groundless arguments, and failed to comply with orders of this Court or cooperate with respondent.”

And, in response to the claims of “Sovereign Citizenship,” the Court levied another fine:

“Despite this Court’s warnings, Mr. Combs persistently asserted frivolous constitutional arguments. We, therefore, impose a $25,000 section 6673(a)(1) penalty.”

Now, here's where I believe the CCSPCA is REALLY connected to this story and why I think it's way past time a much more serious investigation than a toothless – though earnestly completed and well intentioned – Fresno County Grand Jury investigation. The Court determined the IRS had presented a solid case that there was more money involved than the amount found in the seven tax shelters the couple created. And I'll bet a home-cooked dinner and a good bottle of wine I know where some of that money was coming from. Early in its review of Combs' case, the Court found:

“Respondent’s determinations were supported by substantive evidence that the taxpayer received unreported income.”

Since payments made by the CCSPCA to Combs for “printing services” allegedly went to “Shebaniah Minstries” instead of his printing business “Ideas Unlimited Printing,” it's pretty easy to draw the conclusion that those payments would constitute some of that “unreported income.” The CCSPCA both wrote the checks to “Shebaniah Ministries” AND reported it that way on their Federal Income Tax returns – another indication that they knew what was going on. And, as I mentioned before, this means every single member of the CCSPCA's board is potentially accountable to the IRS – BECAUSE the shelter's tax returns also state that each member reviews those returns before they're submitted.
If the CCSPCA's board tolerates (not to mention almost certainly colludes with) this kind of behavior from one of its own members, one can only imagine what other questionable use of public funds has been going on behind a wall of secrecy. After all, we're talking about millions in taxpayer dollars that the City of Fresno and Fresno County have been paying the shelter for decades. Who ELSE at the CCSPCA (or formerly on the CCSPCA payroll) has been pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars?

And, I think it's high time that this question was asked: "Which politicians' campaign funds (city, county - and beyond) have profited from these blatantly illegal activities - over the last FORTY YEARS?" Why has Mayor Swearengin had nothing to say about the situation with the CCSPCA and the decision by the City Council and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to move on without the shelter when its BOD arrogantly attempted to play a game of political "chicken" and failed? One would think that the mayor of California's sixth largest city - especially one who claims to be all about the people of Fresno and not politics - would have some comment on the matter, right? Yet what have we heard from the Mayor? Nothing. Not. One. Word.

Is it time to bring the California Attorney General's Office into the cloud of suspicion surrounding the actions of the CCSPCA and its Board of Directors? I think we all know the answer to that -

I am now officially calling for a full investigation and audit of the CCSPCA's finances. I am publicly asking that the Fresno District Attorney's Office consider filing charges, and that the D.A. contact the State Attorney General's Office to ask them to do the same. 

Despite the arrogant behavior of the taxpayer-funded CCSPCA (refusal to institute any transparency in its operations, refusal to cooperate in any way with the Fresno County Grand Jury, etc.), voluminous evidence uncovered by myself and others that financial impropriety has been taking place there, and a Fresno County Grand Jury report that essentially supports that theory – the recent attitude of City and County officials has been “The CCSPCA is the past. Let's just move on.”

That, my friends, is not good enough for me. Does it work for you? Please join me in demanding some answers and accountability by contacting City of Fresno and Fresno County officials and asking that more aggressive action be taken in this matter. Immediately.

Maybe some of you can call the local television and radio stations (I can think of one particular radio station that REALLY needs to be - ahem - made aware of this information) and ask why NONE of them have bothered to report on this story. I have previously contacted ALL of them, HANDED them all of my research – PLUS a completed article – and have gotten SQUAT for a response. Perhaps if other concerned (or frankly, pissed off) citizens start making noise, they might get off their lazy butts and do some real reporting.

(By the way, I stumbled on this particular document while doing research on some OTHER former members of CCSPCA staff. I guarantee that you're all going to find one of my discoveries extremely interesting - especially if you're a part of the "rescue community." For now, just ask yourself, “Who at the CCSPCA would be likely to use 'printing services' the most?”) 


  1. Again you leave me speechless and that's hard to do. All I can do is shake my damn head. You never really know who you are actually working for, I guess.

  2. Jim- I think you are 100% correct about every point you've made. Proof that the CCSPCA did fraudently divert money to Mr. Combs is evident in their tax returns reporting money to Shebaniah Ministries for 'printing services' which is, in fact, non-existent. It's a shell company used by Mr Combs to avoid paying taxes. The CCSPCA has obviously committed tax fraud by reporting that they paid money to a company that is not a printing company.

    It is pretty obvious why they chose to grab their charitable donations and hide in the corner- it's hard to explain to the IRS why you're climing to be both a private non-profit, while also claiming to be a private for-profit, depending on who you are trying to avoid letting know about your generally fraudulent use of both taxpayer funds and private donations.

    People/companies who have nothing to hide will put their books on the table for everyone to see. People who hide are, point-blank... cheating someone.

    What it really points out, sadly- is that the people involved with the CCSPCA have ignored their own killing of 50,000 animals per year, every year for the last 50 years.... all so they could draw cushy salaries and avoid paying taxes. They obviously love money more than animals' lives, and therefore should be flushed out of the 'shelter' business like the foul-smelling excrement that they are.

    A full-blown investigation of every business, board member, and person drawing anything above minimum wage should be instigated. They should be prosecuted. And, they should be publicly dragged through the muck for what they have willingly done to the animals who had nowhere else to go. What a bunch of betraying back-stabbers...!

  3. Wow, spelled out so well. Speechless!

  4. Off the cuff, I would guess the education arm of the CCSPCA would be the part of the "organization" that would require the greatest amount of publishing be done. Who used to be in charge of the education department again? It eludes me.


Dissenting opinions are always welcome and even encouraged because they help keep the author honest and can be a source of enlightenment. However, be advised that openly hostile and completely off topic comments or ad hominem attacks will be summarily dispatched to the Forbidden Zone.