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Porn History 101: It Cost Ginger Lynn $400,000 to Battle the Tax Man

The story involving Janine and the IRS [AVN interestingly attaches a staff byline to what’s the Associated Press version of the story] isn’t the first time that porn stars and the tax man entwined in a relationship that didn’t necessitate compromising sex.

The most famous one involved that of Ginger Lynn. Small wonder Lynn drinks her own pee, now. She can’t afford to buy it any more. That’s because the government case which occurred in 1991 cost her $400,000 and loads of mental grief on top of that. A lot of its circumstances have been detailed by the E! Channel.

But the footprints of emotional breakdown leading up to the situation could be seen forming in the ground as early as five years before when Lynn did a movie called Blame It on Ginger. Henri Pachard was the director. And Lynn, by this time was having difficulty performing and had to get high to forge her way through a scene.

Pachard recalled at the time how he was pushing the envelope in that feature and that Lynn, in turn, performed with great reluctance and resentment.

“She was really angry with me,” said Pachard in the E! broadcast, recalling an instance when they were on location and driving back to the hotel after a day on the set.

“I said you’re in a bad mood and she said you’d be cranky too if you had your head in a toilet.”

Shortly after, Lynn left the business. It was about the same time that the Traci Lords case broke. Lords and Lynn had never gotten along, while a number of stars entangled with Lords got involved in the scandal including Lynn. Consequently Lynn was called to testify against people she knew in the business, many of whom she considered friends.

Lynn, along with Tom Byron and Harry Reems were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. Lynn, who refused to cooperate, was told that if she didn’t her life would be made difficult. So the income tax beef was hardly a surprise when it finally landed in her lap. Lynn, at the time, went before the grand jury and her great lack of recall pissed off a few people, even more, apparently.

Over the next few years, Lynn while attempting to make ends meet in the mainstream, was having a rough time of it. She also tried dancing in strip clubs. Although Sharon Mitchell was quoted by the E! Channel as saying that Lynn couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Unhappy with dancing, despair fueled Lynn’s cocaine use, according to reports.

Before the IRS hammer would eventually fall, Lynn had checked into a rehab center in San Diego. While Lynn never considered herself a drug addict or alcoholic, she rationalized her behavior by saying that she might have gone a little too far and done a little too much in the way of partying.

During the shooting of Young Guns II [she had a small part], Lynn was introduced to Charlie Sheen by his brother Emilio. She and Charlie Sheen hit it off in such a way that Lynn, described as giddy as a school girl, was prompted to remark positively about their mutual spontaneity and how they clicked together.

What had been a minor inconvenience about to be rectified by Sheen, was the fact that he was engaged to actress Kelly Preston at the time. Sheen dumped Preston a month later and Preston went on to marry John Travolta.

In 1990 it was Sheen who was then checked into a rehab clinic. If nothing else, it gave him and Lynn, besides an endearing Cheech and Chong relationship, another bullet point of conversation- perhaps the ability to gossip about mutual pharmaceutical suppliers.

Lynn’s money problems only got worse when, in 1991, she and a host of other adult film stars were charged with tax evasion. The government, probably as a payback for her recalcitrance and memory loss in the Lords investigation, claimed Lynn cheated the government in back taxes for a sum less than $2100.

For this paltry amount of money, Lynn faced six years in federal prison but was told if she cooperated she’d get a light sentence. Lynn maintained her innocence asking, “Why would I cheat for $2,000?”

In that investigation, Tom Byron was also busted in the sting and was looking at 12 years “for being a shoddy accountant.” Byron’s words.

The IRS charges sent shock waves through the industry.

“It hit everyone hard and Ginger was the first of the women,” recalls Mitchell, stating that the prevailing feeling, prior, was that the government would more likely go after the producers and manufacturers of porn, not necessarily the performers.

Photographers who also worked with Lynn were questioned. Suze Randall described at the time how the government prosecutor had everyone in a room advising them how to testify.

“He made it quite clear that if they didn’t testify, he’d be chasing down their tax returns and checking on them,” Randall adds.

Lynn’s trial in federal court began in May, 1991. On June 3rd she was convicted of one count of filing a false tax return. Lynn faced up to three years in federal prison. According to Lynn, it cost her $400,000 to defend herself for a crime she didn’t commit. With a prison sentence looming, Lynn retained the services of Santa Monica attorney Janet Sherman.

According to Sherman, Lynn was in the worst position that a defendant could be in a federal court in that she had gone to a jury trial and lost.

“Because the government’s going to seek a harsher punishment than they might have if the defendant had negotiated a plea bargain and settled the case that way,” says Sherman.

Criminologist Sheila Balkan was also hired to examine Lynn’s background as part of her defense. Balkin’s investigation revealed Lynn’s violent childhood, her dissent into drugs and life in adult films. Balkin reported her findings to the court with a request for leniency.

Other pleas for leniency were submitted by friends and luminaries including actor Martin Sheen, Charlie’s father. Martin Sheen wrote a letter on Ginger’s behalf calling her “a dear friend,” and that he was proud to be able to write on her support. Charlie Sheen, in a letter similar to his father’s, also petitioned the court, noting that Ginger had helped him during a very difficult time in his life’s battle against drugs and alcohol.

On September 23rd, 1991, Lynn appeared in court for sentencing, noting that it was the most frightening day of her life. Lynn described how her legs weren’t holding up, that her knees were shaking so badly at the thought that she could go away for six years. In the end, all the adult film stars facing charges escaped prison terms including Lynn who was left with feelings of anger and resentment.

Instead, Lynn received three years probation, 750 hours of community service and mandatory drug testing. On the other hand, her attorney, Sherman, seeing the glass has half full, called it a great victory because Lynn was able to get on with her life and avoid prison.

Through 1991 Lynn and Sheen continued to see one another and work on their sobriety. But by the end of that summer, Lynn sensed that Sheen had grown distant. She speculated that his friends were pressuring him to leave her. By the end of the year, Lynn was confronted with the news by one of Sheen’s assistants that Sheen was using the services of Heidi Fleiss.

Lynn described the news as shattering because she was of the belief that honesty was one of the things that held their relationship together. Lynn was heartbroken and their confrontation was painful. Notwithstanding the parade of hookers, Sheen said he couldn’t take the pressure anymore of his friends insisting that Lynn’s presence would be his ruination.

By the time the relationship was over, Lynn in early 1992 failed one of her court-ordered drug tests. She admitted that she hadn’t been thinking things through and felt the only thing that mattered now was that she get high.

The cops were notified that she violated probation. And so Lynn was arrested and locked in a cell at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center.

Incarcerated for 17 days, Lynn was traumatized. Besides learning the compulsory penal arts and crafts such as making a knife out of a pencil, rubber band and a blade from a leg shaver, Lynn described how she saw things she had never seen before in her life including how to mix heroin. And she would shoot up in her cell.

“I was very reformed while I was in there,” Lynn later stated. On March 3rd, 1992, Lynn, now 29, was released from jail into the arms of her grandmother. Although the reunion was brief. Lynn, the same night, was ordered to spend the next four weeks in drug rehab. Released from rehab, she continued to pursue work in the legitimate film world.

Over the next couple of years, she continued her on again, off again relationship with Sheen, still of the belief that perhaps their romance could be salvaged. Sheen had asked Lynn to marry him, and she asked if that meant he would quit partying and sleeping with other women. Sheen’s nasty reaction this time was a wakeup call.

By September 1994, Lynn’s three-year government probation from the tax rap had ended. Lynn celebrated that and her break up with Sheen by getting a tattoo: a pair of lips saying, it is what it is.

Lynn then pursued a romance with what was described as “an old friend,” and by summer of 1995 discovered that she was pregnant. Reporters had suspected the child was Sheen’s and Lynn, referring to the “happy accident,” denied the rumor. In 1991 Lynn had been told she had female problems which would preclude having children, so she was now ecstatic with the news of a pregnancy.

On March 31, 1996, Lynn gave birth to a son, Sterling Wayne Robert Allen. She withheld the name of the father from the birth certificate, claiming she had signed a confidentiality agreement with the baby’s father that forbade her from releasing his name.

Then on 9/11, the day of the terrorist bombings in New York and Washington, Lynn underwent a complete hysterectomy.

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