The owner of a shop in Brainerd, Minn., that sells sex and smoking paraphernalia whose business has been targeted repeatedly by police is fighting his conviction on a slew of tax evasion charges.
Sentencing is set March 22 for Risky Business Novelties and Videos owner Ronald W. Beattie Jr., 45, of Baxter, Minn., but his attorney is asking the judge to overturn a Crow Wing County jury’s guilty verdicts on nearly three dozen tax-related felony charges. Beattie was found guilty Jan. 31 of failing to file and pay individual, sales and withholding taxes.
Twin Cities attorney Randall Tigue said Friday there is “zero” evidence that his client “knowingly refused to pay taxes.”
In July 2012, the county froze Beattie’s assets and collected $281,000, which was applied to his sales tax debt for 2005-2010.
Tigue explained that Beattie’s original accountant failed to file the returns as directed. The new accountant not only followed through on the filings, but Beattie also paid a “huge amount of interest and penalties,” Tigue added.
Beattie, who also operates Ultimate Limo Party Bus in Brainerd, is “absolutely whole with the state of Minnesota,” Tigue said.
Tigue said he can’t say whether the nature of Beattie’s business — the store is packed with sex toys, skimpy lingerie and hookahs — is motivating prosecutors against his client, “but I certainly know that this verdict wasn’t based on any evidence.”
The state Department of Revenue says that each charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Tigue said the judge must rule on his client’s motion for judgment of acquittal before sentencing occurs.
Risky Business has been raided three times on suspicion of selling synthetic marijuana, most recently last August, Tigue said. In each instance, the charges never stuck, the attorney said.
“He’s selling some incense that is accused of being synthetic marijuana,” Tigue said. “We don’t believe he’s selling anything that the law prohibits.”
Beattie was also charged with criminal sexual conduct by a fired female worker who said that her boss raped her in his office every day for the past two years, Tigue said. That case also was dismissed, according to the attorney.
County Attorney Donald Ryan said he stands by the tax evasion prosecution and added that “we haven’t singled out Mr. Beattie in any way, shape or form” in any of the cases, adding that the type of business he runs “is irrelevant.”