Hennepin County public defender hit with tax charges

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 21, 2012 - 5:40 PM

A Hennepin County public defender is accused of failing to pay state taxes for 4 years and owing $9,800.

A Hennepin County public defender has been charged in Ramsey County with eight felonies for allegedly not paying Minnesota taxes or filing returns for the past four years, the state Department of Revenue said Wednesday.

Jason W. McGee, 35, of Minneapolis, failed to file income tax returns for 2008 through 2011, according to the criminal complaint.

Since joining the Hennepin County public defender's office in 2008, McGee claimed "exempt" on his W-4 forms, resulting in almost no taxes being withheld, according to the complaint.

McGee allegedly owes the state more than $9,800 in income taxes.

The Department of Revenue added that McGee also was audited after filing his 2007 tax return because his itemized deductions exceeded his wages for that year. As a result, the department seized his wages to satisfy his tax liability.

The complaint said his annual salary ranged in those years from slightly less than $50,000 to slightly more than $54,000.

McGee, who was charged by summons, has been on unpaid leave from his duties since mid-September, chief public defender William Ward said.

"I don't think it is ever appropriate to comment on pending charges other than to say that Mr. McGee -- like all individuals -- is presumed innocent of the charges," Ward said. "This matter will work its way through the criminal justice system, as does every other allegation filed in criminal court."

McGee was unavailable Wednesday for comment.

According to state records, McGee was hired in April 2007. He is the son of William McGee, who was the county's chief public defender until his death in 2000.

In 2010, Jason McGee was arrested early Feb. 27 and charged with drunken driving, stalking and driving on a suspended license after he allegedly kicked in the door of his girlfriend's home and went upstairs to look for her. Police determined that McGee had called the girlfriend's cellphone 23 times between 1:40 a.m. and 2:19 a.m. that day, according to the charges.

Charges other than the fourth-degree drunken driving count were dismissed. As part of his sentence, McGee was placed on two years of supervised probation, which is set to expire in May 2013. Terms of the probation include abiding by the law.

In late 2002, he was charged in Hennepin County with carrying a gun without a permit, third-degree property damage, domestic assault and disorderly conduct. The domestic assault and property damage charges were dropped, and he was convicted on the gun and disorderly conduct charges.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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