Warren Fischer

Nelson acupuncturist gets six months in jail for tax evasion

Traditional Chinese medicine doctor in Nelson has been sentenced to jail and must pay a $40,000 fine.

A traditional Chinese medicine doctor who didn’t pay his income taxes for three years has been ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and spend six months in jail for the crime.

Warren Fischer, 50, is the founder of Nelson’s Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences, where he works as a classroom instructor and an acupuncturist in the outpatient clinic.

Between the years of 2007 and 2009, he filed income tax statements reporting either no earnings or a net loss. But according to a Revenue Canada investigation, he earned between $80,000 and $135,000 during each of those years and owed about $62,000 in taxes for the three-year period.

The sentence handed down by Judge Lisa Mrozinski at the Nelson courthouse Tuesday morning gave him three and a half years to pay back 75 per cent of the amount he owes in back taxes.

Fischer’s lawyer Shawn Buckley had recommended that Fischer pay the mandatory minimum fine of 50 per cent of the amount owing and that he be given a conditional sentence that could be served in the community. But Crown prosecutor Nils Preshaw asked for a 100 per cent fine and one year in jail.

Mrozinski told the court that she did not believe Fischer would comply with a conditional sentence order because of his history of defying court process and regulations of other governing bodies. For example, during pre-trial hearings he and his supporters were disruptive in court and during the trial he refused to enter the courthouse, opting to stand outside the doors in peaceful protest. He also continues to practice Chinese medicine, seeing between 50 and 60 patients per week, despite not being in good standing with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners.

Fischer became more respectful of the court process after his conviction and spending 38 days in jail. For the first time, he showed up to court accompanied by a lawyer and gave a statement, during which he explained his motivation for avoiding taxes and apologized for his previous behaviour.

Judge Mrozinski said it was “too little, too late.”

Fischer was escorted out of the courthouse in handcuffs and will begin serving his jail time immediately. The days he’s already spent behind bars will be deducted from the sentence.

About 40 people — Fischer’s students, patients, friends and family — filled the public gallery to hear the sentence. Many left in tears. Fischer showed little emotion during the one-hour proceedings and didn’t show any outward response to the news that he was heading back to jail.

During sentencing he said that as a slim, intellectual gay man he was bullied by fellow inmates in jail. He was refused access to the Chinese herbs he takes for medical reasons. He had difficulty sleeping and became ill.

He also said previously that he has no intention to pay income tax going forward. Instead he will organize his affairs such that he’ll be giving the majority of his earnings to charity and claim only a small income, below the taxable amount.

Just Posted

Nelson considers amnesty on parking fines

Drivers with backlogged fines would have until January to apply

EDITORIAL: Federal NDP challenges evident on Kootenay campaign trip

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tours the Kootenays in support of local MPs, proportional representation

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Leafs fall to Braves, Twitter fight breaks out

Nelson gave up two goals in the third en route to a 4-2 loss

Cardiac arrest survivor saved by passerby

People who know CPR can now register with a new phone app to notify them of nearby emergencies

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Kootenay music mentor crushed by stolen sax, sheet music

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers or the Trail RCMP at 250.364.2566

Most Read