BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho House of Representatives on Thursday expelled one of its members a day after he was convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government.
The House voted 65-0 to expel Republican Rep. John Green of Post Falls. It is the first ever expulsion from the Idaho Legislature, state officials said.
Green was convicted Wednesday on charges stemming from helping a wealthy Texas couple hide assets to avoid paying income taxes when Green worked as an attorney there. Green maintains his innocence.
Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke made the motion to declare Green's seat vacant.
“The institution preceded us, and the institution will go long after we have left," Bedke said after the vote, calling it a difficult day. “And on our watch, we wanted to do our constitutional and statutory duty, and I think we performed that today.”
Idaho's Constitution doesn't allow someone to hold any civil office if convicted of a felony, but two-thirds of House members must vote to expel.
A process to replace Green now begins that requires the involvement of Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
Green on Wednesday said he planned to appeal the conviction and serve out the rest of his term. He didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Thursday. Bedke said he spoke with Green about resigning ahead of the vote.
The Idaho attorney general's office in a letter hand-delivered to Bedke earlier Thursday, said that, "Based upon Representative Green's conviction of a felony, he appears to have lost his qualifications for office."
The Idaho Legislative Services Office says it's the first time an Idaho lawmaker has been expelled from the Legislature. There was at least one resignation ahead of an expulsion vote, however.
Democratic Rep. John McCrostie, the House assistant minority leader, said the House did what it was required to do on Thursday.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Thomas Selgas and his wife owed $1.1 million in outstanding taxes that Selgas refused to pay. The department said that when the IRS tried to collect the outstanding taxes, Selgas concealed funds by using Green’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account.
Such an account is used by a lawyer to hold money in trust for clients. The department said that in this case, Green used it illegally to help Thomas Selgas not pay taxes.
Thomas Selgas was also convicted of conspiring to defraud the United States as well as tax evasion. Selgas’ wife, Michelle Selgas, was acquitted of those two charges.
U.S. District Judge Karen Gren Scholer will set sentencing at a later date. Green faces up to five years in prison.
On Wednesday, Green maintained his innocence in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after his conviction.
“I've been an attorney for 30 years, and I know how these things go,” he said. “It is what it is. A lot of innocent people get convicted.”