Patrick Flaherty is a young man dealing with chrometophobia – an irrational aversion to money. He has chosen to live as a subsistence farmer and hunter near Coolidge, Wyoming, a small town nestled between the high plains and the Bighorn Mountains. But Patrick isn't a hermit – he's a part of his community, and his friends and neighbors love having him around.
In Washington, the current administration is fed up with Congressional gridlock on tax reform. To achieve "revenue enhancement" in the absence of Congressional action, the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice have identified taxable transactions in the deep recesses of the tax code that taxpayers have been under-reporting. The government is determined to pursue high-profile criminal prosecutions to increase voluntary reporting and compliance.
Soon after the new policy is disseminated to IRS agents across the country, Special Agent Arthur Bolton finds himself on a barstool in "Cousin Clem's," the noisiest bar in Coolidge. Patrick Flaherty is sitting next to him, and they are talking about life and football. In passing, Patrick describes how he looks for opportunities to do favors for his friends and neighbors, and his friends and neighbors find opportunities to feed him and to provide food and fencing for his animals. What Special Agent Bolton sees in Patrick's description is taxable bartering – which, it turns out, the suspect has failed to report on federal tax returns. Bolton alerts his superiors in Denver and Washington, and, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, a grand jury in Wyoming quickly hands up an indictment. Patrick is arrested outside his cabin on a cold afternoon in January, and faces a criminal trial in federal court in Casper, Wyoming. His biggest problem – the law and the facts are pretty much on the government's side. His biggest advantage – Patrick's lawyer at trial is Anita Boyle, a small town solo practitioner who will never, ever back down from a fight.