The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

‘Sovereign Citizen’ Claims ‘Delusional Disorder’ Led Him Astray

By Ryan Lenz on July 13, 2011 - 2:27 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

Sovereign citizen Richard Ulloa was to be sentenced for terrorizing police and bank officials in upstate New York with fake bills he hoped would stop a foreclosure on his home. Then he had an odd sort of epiphany.

“I’ve come to the realization I need therapy,” Ulloa, 52, told U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy during a sentencing hearing on Tuesday. He then went on to confess that a jail therapy program for alcoholics and drug addicts helped him realize he had a “delusional disorder” and that he never should have represented himself in his trial.

Ulloa was one of seven sovereign citizens, antigovernment extremists who believe they get to decide which laws to follow, charged with fraud in relation to an investigation in upstate New York. Ulloa was convicted of filing financial liens against a police officer and a local justice in Rosendale, N.Y., for $552 million, and against mortgage lenders for $2.8 billion following a foreclosure on his property. The case was profiled in a 60 Minutes report that reprised many of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s findings on the sovereign movement.

The judge didn’t buy Ulloa’s jailhouse conversion that he now realizes the absurd underpinnings of the sovereign movement. Prosecutors told the Associated Press Ulloa was likely trying to “cloud the record,” and Judge McAvoy ordered Ulloa undergo a psychological evaluation.

Ulloa is right about one thing – sovereign citizens have delusional ideas. The movement is comprised of people who believe they have uncovered an understanding of the law that has been secretly hidden from the public. Followers of the ideology often inundate courts and legal offices with enigmatic declarations, liens and UCC filings that rely on convoluted and antiquated legal language, a tactic known as “paper terrorism.” In doing so, each sovereign believes they are freeing themselves from the “bondage” of modern government.

That may have been the case this week in Pennsylvania, where Erie County Councilman Ebert G. Beeman decided to fight two traffic tickets. Already in hot water with the IRS for $2.1 million in back taxes, Beeman mailed two citations for driving on a suspended license to a district judge with the words “refuse for cause” written in felt pen on each.

Beeman also wrote on the tickets, which were copied to the Erie Times-News, a declaration pulled directly from the sovereign lexicon. “I am a living, breathing man who works, earns and creates values on the land known as Erie County, Pennsylvania,” he wrote. “The documents I am returning are an example of unproductive, parasitic consumption.”

Despite claiming to be ignorant of the sovereign citizen movement, the councilman has previously said the state does not have the right to require he have a Social Security number, and has said he doesn’t think he can be lawfully bound to have a driver’s license. Many sovereigns view drivers’ licenses and social security cards as blind contracts with the government. By refusing to enter into such agreements, they believe, they are exercising ultimate freedom.

Hatewatch left telephone messages seeking comment at Beeman’s home in Waterford, Pa., which were not returned. His trial is scheduled on Aug. 2.

  • Privatissimo

    What is the intent behind this fallaciously generalized piece that even high schoolers can see through it? Is a law center saying one should be wary of getting interested in ::gasp:: the foundational law governing our lives, how we arrived here, and how we may govern ourselves if we choose to do so via new contracts? Who said it would be easy? If it’s easy is it worth doing? How fun is “paper terrorist” right? Though this may not reach the page, at least I’ll know one or a few individuals will read the following: If such propaganda is being issued, then what are these individuals getting close to? Say hi to the gang at the Inn’s of Court won’t you?
    Kind Regards

  • Dakotahgeo

    These ‘soverign (sp) citizens’ are the most disgusting people I’ve ever heard. Put them ALL ‘away.’ For good!

  • MrsCaptJack

    D. Bowen ~ Delousional disorder is correctly placed in quotation marks because it is not a diagnosis, but an elaborate last minute claim by the DEFENDANT to cloud the Court’s record ~ hence the judge ordering a psychological evaluation. Read the article before you go off on a tangent like this.

  • juepucta

    The Rand connection is a good, valid and often ignored point.

    Also, this sort of insanity is spread, amongst other people, by radio shows like Coast To Coast AM which is under the umbrella of Premiere Radio Networks. Guess who is also a PRN personality? Hint: name starts with a “G” and rhymes with “lennBeck”.

    You just have to look at their advertisers. Seeds and cans for the upcoming apocalypse/gov takeover/FEMA camps. Buy gold now because an economic collapse will happen. Everything is the fault of the elites/jews/rotschilds/reptilians/commies/etc. That type of insanity.

    They are in the same bracket as A.Jones, only less shunned by the mainstream and their cuckoo bananas message spreads easier.

    Remember that that The Tea Party is just a younger relative of the Cato Institute and they are both descendants of the J Birch Society.


  • Jonas Rand

    Upon watching the Jared Lee Loughner introduction video for the first time, I immediately thought of David-Wynn:Miller (don’t forget the full colon), who has variously claimed to be a genius, heir to the Hawaiian throne, judge, and ambassador. And he is obsessed with grammatical structure and government ‘control’ of it.

    Again, these ideas seem less white supremacist, and more like those of someone mentally unstable (but not hateful). Doubtless, there are white supremacists who are fucked up in the head, but there aren’t inherently hateful elements in the basic ideas of most sovereigns. There are always exceptions, though, such as those who claim that white people are the true and only “citizens”, while blacks and other minorities are the unenlightened, “14th Amendment” ones.

    @Pickwick – I knew about Posse Comitatus, but choose to stick with the most direct traceable origin of the Sovereigns being the Freemen. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Posse were simply based around white supremacy and the idea that the county sheriff should be the most powerful authority. The latter idea doesn’t appear very frequently on the “sovereign” web sites.

  • D. Bowen

    This article is overwhelming unprofessional. In the first place, delusional disorder, here placed skeptically in quotes, is a very real disorder, well documented throughout the history of psychiatric medicine. Even cursory research, like a simple Google search, would have revealed that, and a lazy and careless writer seems likely. Watching legal shows on television will NOT necessarily provide you with a complete knowledge of legally relevant mental illness.

    Perhaps then the writer is choosing to ignore or set aside all question of mental illness? It is improper to sneer at psychiatric problems amongst criminals, even if you have no compassion, because failure to treat mental health issues that lead to criminal behavior ensures that innocent people will suffer at the hands of mentally disturbed individuals. Because the criminal behavior is caused by mental illness, normal deterrence and retribution in the criminal justice system will not be able to stop such crime.

    Then there is the question of tactics against hate groups. As a historic matter, it is foolish to imagine that the weak logic of a disturbed individual will block that group from causing damage. Many Germans and Austrians of the past imagined that a dubious personal history, low rank in the military, not to mention the irony that a short, dark haired foreigner, with a Czech, hence Slavic, name, and a family history of illegitimate decent, could lead a nationalist party advocating the purity of decent and the superiority of tall, blonde Germans, would in itself stop the harm that such a person or party could do. That short, dark haired foreigner was Hitler, and those ironic and cynical calculations did not pay off. Indeed it is quite clear that the Nazis in general were able to extract useful, if evil service from many mentally disturbed individuals who joined their movement.

    Just how this could happen, with the mentally ill aiding the development of a hate group, is particularly clear in the case of delusional disorder. This mental illness is characterized by the afflicted individual having a small number of nonbizarre illusions, held to with an unnatural persistence and focus. In medical terms, “nonbizarre” means that the delusion is not quite physically impossible, even if it is improbable and false. This follows very closely the pattern of beliefs of a hate group, who are likely to falsely suggest that their hate-targets are planning something unlikely, like taking over the world, but not completely impossible, like the belief that their targets are in fact, able to transform into crocodiles. This pattern is quite complete when one notes that the most common form of delusional disorder is the “paranoid” subtype.

    Unlike say, schizophrenia, people with delusional disorder are often able to hold down jobs and be unnoticed, because their delusions are limited to a small number of subjects. This comparative absence of wide-ranging dysfunction could allow such a person to be useful to a hate group, and indeed, another feature of delusional disorder, an obsessive focus on the delusion would be of great assistance to hate groups, who need to transform idle bigotry not uncommonly found in the population, into action and support.

    Now by mocking and discrediting any attempt by the mentally ill in hate groups to get help, the SPLC will only be working hand-in-hand with hate groups, telling their members that there is no advantage in leaving.

    Might a person pretend to be mentally ill to get out of legal trouble? Perhaps, but having self-confessed mentally ill members will certainly discredit any hate group, and a self-confessed mentally ill bigot is going to have a difficult time returning to form after release, unlike many a member of a hate group who goes to jail.

    This article is simply ignorant, and short-sighted. If the SPLC cannot do better than this, it doesn’t deserve the support of progressive or sensible people.

  • skinnyminny

    I’m with Shadow Wolf on this one. It is a trend, once arrested they always claim some kind of ‘mental’ deficiencies. At the same time, we learn of a really bad childhood – all the while they were trying to tell everyone what to do, how to live, what you should look like, what ethnicity you should be…

  • Shadow Wolf

    Alan Aardman,
    I believe the mental incompetency trend, declared often times, in the court of law by various anti-government loons and White Supremacists is used as a back burner only after they are arrested. But in reality, these treasonous idealogues seem to attact all sorts of insane maniacs. Many of which are already crazy before wallowing in such escapedes.

  • Adri T

    @ Alan: I have often thought the same thing. When reading soveriegn-flavored manifestos or chatroom fodder, the endless rambles, and disconnected meaningless legal jargon, remind me of the Jared Loughner (who appears to be schizophrenic) you tube rants. He was quite concerned with being enslaved by “grammar” in the same way sovereigns are fixated on capital letters and other formating choices in legal documents.

  • Pickwick

    @Jonas Rand: The origins of the sovereigns go back further than the Montana Freemen to the Posse Comitatus. In fact much of the sovereigns’ claims regarding the supremacy of the county over country stem directly from Posse Comitatus, which also did not believe in pesky things like drivers licenses or car registrations and pioneered the field of paper terrorism. Many Posse groups were supremacist — mainly white — and fed into both the Christian Identity churches and the militia movement.

  • Alan Aardman

    After reading the works of soverign mainstays such as Full Colon Miller, it’s hard to believe that a lot of these people aren’t somewhere on the schizophrenic spectrum.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Where were the “Oath Keepers” during the Bush era though?

  • Jonas Rand

    @”Shadow Wolf” What “abhorrent White Supremacists”? Most sovereign citizens are not white supremacists, but seem to be non-hateful kooks. Some, however, are white and black supremacists (most Black sovereign citizens are Black supremacist, from what I’ve heard, i.e. “Washitaw Moors”, “Moorish Science”). The movement’s roots are in the Montana Freemen, a white racist militia, but from what I’ve seen, many of them do not follow this line of thought and instead embrace delusions about fake legal loopholes.

    Additionally, the term “extremist” (nearly synonymous, but with less negative connotations, than “radical”) is useless and unconstructive. Harriet Tubman was an “extremist” as well. Groups like the Oath Keepers, “Patriot” movement, , etc. voice concerns which are very legitimate. For example, what the Oath Keepers do is vow to be insubordinate to orders which they consider illegitimate. Most of the orders they promise to disobey violate civil liberties. The US government, since Obama took the office, has virtually been presided over by a de facto 3rd term for George Bush. This has resulted in the erosion of many civil liberties, and the Oath Keepers are simply holding to their values, rather than being drones for the federal government commissars of DHS/abusive police/”anti-terrorism” harassment.

    The bankers have lots of control over the nation (guess where all that TARP money flowed? To the banksters, so that they could “bail out” themselves with multi-million dollar bonuses). The idea that large corporations control the government, or are thoroughly entrenched in the machinery of power in America, is not a “conspiracy theory”, as evidenced by the lax regulations on corporations, the politicians exchanging votes for kickbacks, and the military-industrial complex (which includes private intelligence). These concerns ought to be seriously addressed, not brushed off as kooky theories or “extremism”. Is centrism all that is tolerable?

    The Black Panther Party were radical, does that make them bad too? The police brutality they resisted, in addition to the other grievances they had, have not gone away yet.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Has it become a trend for the abhorrent White Supremacists to declare some kind of mental illnesses in the court of law?

  • Reynardine

    We are all sovereign… , each citizen has perhaps a three-hundred-millionth share of the sovereign, which is the whole electorate. And, thank you, these people who go around claiming to be the sole and only sovereign, unanswerable to the laws passed by our elected representatives, are attempting a huge usurpation of our collective sovereignty.

  • Aron Levy


    I believe that the ‘sovereign’ movement jives quite nicely with Randian Objectivism. Both regard any form of government to be inherently repressive of freedoms, and both are inherently silly.

    Both are inherently dangerous, as well.


  • IludiumPhosdex

    “I am a living, breathing man who works, earns and creates values on the land known as Erie County, Pennsylvania***The documents I am returning are an example of unproductive, parasitic consumption.”

    Isn’t this up there with Ayn Randite articles of faith, perhaps?

    And it may be a stretch, but is it possible for so-called “sovereign citizens” to subscribe to the Ayn Rand school of ideology?

  • Linnea

    These “sovereign citizens” have another name: Idiots, in the original Greek sense. In classical Greece, anyone who was ignorant of and neglectful of public concerns and the common good was called an idiot. The Greeks would be stunned if they could see the modern-day American incarnations.