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

Buddhist monument to be dedicated in Slocan cemetery

A new post has been created to mark the site where at least nine Japanese Canadians were cremated

COLUMN: 1919 – Forest fire threatens Rosemont

From the files of the Nelson Daily News

LETTER: A good news story

From reader Lonnie Snyder

School District 8 names new international principal

Jann Schmidt has been an educator for 26 years

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read