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Federal authorities in the Seattle area filed weapons and drug charges against a man alleged to be involved in the militia and sovereign citizens movement as well as a local secessionist group. Andrew Steven Gray, 32, was arrested early last month after FBI agents searched his storage unit and found a machine gun, twenty rifles, four silencers, two bulletproof vests and 9,000 rounds of ammunition.
Gray’s arrest is another example of revived strength in the sovereign citizens movement, a trend recently reported on in the Intelligence Report.
In court documents unsealed last week, federal agents said the case began after a paid informant revealed that Gray had been shooting a rifle and pistol in Snohomish County, Wash., at a building called the Militia Training Center which “routinely holds training for individuals involved in the militia movement.” The informant secretly recorded Gray admitting to owning guns, even though he is forbidden to possess firearms as an ex-felon.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted, “among the weapons seized were two guns manufactured by a Snohomish gunsmith whose offerings include parts named ‘Christian warrior’ and ‘NObama.’” In an affidavit, FBI agent Gregory Kraus stated that one of the indicators of Gray’s sovereign citizen ideology were previous legal filings he made claiming the State of Washington had no authority over him due to problems with the constitutional convention of 1889, as well as Gray’s driver’s license, on which the words “no liability accepted” are written over his signature. “Based on my training and experience I know that this is also an indicator of ’sovereign citizen’ ideology,” stated Kraus.
Gray remains free on bond and his lawyer Jessica Riley claims he is no longer involved with the sovereign citizens movement. “Although Mr. Gray may have historically been affiliated with this group, in recent months he had begun to distance himself from the ’sovereign citizen’ movement,” Riley stated in a case filing. “Mr. Gray is not the crazy, politically charged renegade that the government makes him out to be in its complaint.”
Gray’s father also filed a letter of support with the court stating, “Recently Andrew fell in the company with people who felt the only hope for survival was guns. His mother and I, along with others, told him this is ‘not’ the answer. He was beginning to agree with this [sic] sentiments and it was the beginning of him getting back on track starting with the driving issues.”
However, another letter backing Gray was filed by Thom Satterlee, who identifies himself in a notarized stamp as “Bishop of The Way, Yeshua’s Talmadin.” For much of the 1990s, Satterlee advocated that part of Snohomish County should secede from the United States and rename itself Freedom County. In 2000, the self-proclaimed sheriff of this non-existent county told law enforcement that, “federal agents are no longer allowed to seize property for back taxes within Freedom County’s alleged boundaries.”
Satterlee has been convicted of practicing law without a license and attempted to redeem $38 million in “public wealth rebate notes” at a bank before they were confiscated by the Secret Service. He described Gray as a friend of over ten years and a man of “high moral character whose word is (his) bond.”