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Unusual, Hippie-Like ‘Sovereign Citizens’ Arrested in N.Y.

By Bill Morlin on August 15, 2011 - 4:50 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Sovereign Citizens

Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, they’re not. Self-styled antigovernment “sovereign citizens” with dreadlocks, looking for a videotaped confrontation with law enforcement and a quick lawsuit settlement to fund their lifestyle – well, that comes closer to the real picture.

That assessment, anyway, comes from authorities in Ontario County, N.Y., who are prosecuting three sovereign citizens — people who do not believe that most federal tax and criminal laws apply to them and who often employ legal jibberish in their court filings — who were arrested for marijuana possession, endangering the welfare of a child and other charges.

The trio was arrested in late July in their van in a parking lot after a rock concert by the band Further – a group formed by two surviving members of the Grateful Dead and named after author Kesey’s colorful, drug-infused touring bus of the 1960s. (Ah, the early days of the antigovernment movement!) “They appeared to be living out of the van,’’ Ontario County investigator Matt McDonald said Monday when asked about the three defendants who remain in the county jail in Hopewell, N.Y., pending trials.

Asked to further describe the trio, the investigator said: “Dreadlocks, dirty and unclean in appearance. Yeah, I would say they’re hippie-looking.”

Ontario County sheriff’s deputies encountered the trio on July 26 because they were illegally selling items out of their van and appeared to be prepared to stay in the parking lot of the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center in Hopewell, N.Y., in violation of local laws, McDonald said.

When the trio refused to leave and deputies began making arrests, a man who identified himself as “Sovereign Godsent” began to resist arrest, while his friends or associates began to videotape the episode, the investigator said. McDonald said he has since confirmed that Sovereign Godsent is an alias for John Pugh, 41, of Ithaca, N.Y.

A videotape of the incident, apparently taken by other associates who weren’t arrested, has not surfaced. “But I hope it does surface because it would help us prosecute this case,’’ McDonald said.

Godsent claims to be the “founder of the Sovereign Family Network and member of the Republic of New York.” He promotes the “ultimate handbook on how to live free without government interference in your life!” It was unclear if a copy was in his van.

Police in Ithaca and in Connecticut and Massachusetts also have had encounters with members of the same “sovereign citizen” group, and there have been other arrests.

“This is the first time we’ve arrested people with this group” in Ontario County, McDonald said. “They claim to be sovereign citizens – people who say they’re each their own nation and the laws of the federal government and states don’t apply to them.

“It appears to us that their plan is to create some sort of conflict with law enforcement, videotape it and then file a lawsuit or claim, hoping to get a quick settlement with a municipality,’’ McDonald added. “I think that’s how they finance their lifestyle.” While the defendants remain in jail, their supporters have sent out Internet postings claiming the three sovereign citizens were “kidnapped by foreign agents of the State of New York County of Ontario corporation.”

The posting was authored by “Chewie the Rook,” another self-proclaimed sovereign citizen who referred to Sovereign Godsent as the “Prince Jonah of New York,” and claimed he suffered a broken arm injury during his arrest.

“This participation in human trafficking of American State Citizens matches the pattern and practice we have seen exhibited by agents of numerous divisions of the foreign STATE OF NEW YORK and UNITED STATES federal corporations,” said the posting, which employed the unusual capitalization and the notion that governments are private bodies that are typical of the sovereign citizens movement.

It continued: “While the cops thought they were preying like usual on anonymous victims, the Sovereign Family Network mail list actually reaches over 5000 people.”

Also arrested with Pugh – or Sovereign Godsent, as he prefers to be called – were Christine “Raven” Bleich, 31, of Ithaca, N.Y., and Jesse A. “Bucket” Kelso, 23, of Rutherglen, Va.  They also were charged with endangering the welfare of a child, resisting arrest and unlawful possession of marijuana.

The sovereign citizen group posting said the arrests are “similar to what the case would be if the French embassy in New York was holding someone hostage and pretending the hostages were French citizens being lawfully detained.  But France is not holding our friends. The UNITED STATES CORPORATION is holding our friends, our fellow Americans, on statutory violations outside the due process guaranteed under the common law.”

The group’s venom also is being directed at the prosecutor and judge handling the case. “We suspect a scheme along the standard pattern we have seen whereby the DISTRICT ATTORNEY and JUDGE intend to collude to administrate certain estates for the overall financial gain of their parent company and its international creditors without having lawful letters of administration for the estates.”

At a court hearing last week, the defendants called the proceeding “estate appearances” and presented “notarized Affidavits of the Living American Citizen status of our leader and friends. The TOWN OF CANANDAIGUA COURT ignored the living statuses, hence contracting with Sovereign Copwatch for an investigation of their public servants.”

  • Born A Slave

    There is a very strong difference between being a con artist and a sovereign citizen, no matter what a person claims to be. I don’t agree with the “sovereign philosophy” that they can not be prosecuted [even though they can and are, they say it is against our own constitution to do so because they are a foreign nation as an individual, and to arrest or wrongfully detain them is to declare war on a foreign nation] but they think that it’s okay to prosecute another individual or a municipality.

    However, I too believe that I was born on American soil. By circumstance. And at no between that moment and now have I ever signed a contract binding me to the United States or its common laws, liberties, or taxes.

    A true sovereign does not want American legal tender notes from the sate to spend on frivilous things. A true sovereign is really like the Amish. They live their peaceful lives and mind their own business, and they do not need the “law of the land” because they have their own individual moral code that they do not break- because they do what is Right, not what is lawful.

    Thank you.

  • Harry

    Just met Godsent on the Commons yesterday and he appears to be out of jail. Bucket was out a few days ago. It looks like the case might have been rather flimsy, and the offenses weren’t really serious enough to justify the $20,000 bail and multiple weeks of detention used in the case.

  • commonly known as jay

    The US became INCORPORATED in 1871. For all of you out there who’s education ended in high school.

    On February 21, 1871 and the Forty-First Congress is in session. I refer you to the “Acts of the Forty-First Congress,” Section 34, Session III, chapters 61 and 62. On this date in the history of our nation, Congress passed an Act titled: “An Act To Provide A Government for the District of Columbia.” This is also known as the “Act of 1871.”

    What does this mean? Well, it means that Congress, under no constitutional authority to do so, created a separate form of government for the District of Columbia, which is a ten mile square parcel of land.

    Maybe instead of putting in your “un-educated” or “ignorant” 2 cents, maybe you should start listening. These guys are far more educated than the lot of you, (which is why you seem to think they are speaking another language.) These folks are true “red blooded” Americans! GOD BLESS THEM!

  • randy

    Do your research people. These counties ARE corporations. They do profit from the bonding process. Instead shooting the messenger. Listen to the message. Poor sleeping slaves

  • Bystander

    Jane doesn’t know these people. I do. There is no Ithaca Sovereign Nation. It’s all media hype to cover up public fraud. Ithaca is a hippie-yoga town, home of a number of popular performing artists/entertainers who although are in the public eye, must live private and peaceful lifestyles.

    Ithaca is also home for a reality-tv show called “Sovereign Copwatch” about a touring music group whose bus keeps getting pulled over by the cops between gigs. A private security company is contracted to protect the talent and the footage from the “guest stars” on the show.

    The show is an an underground hit and the media is trying to put a spin on the show and defame the talent by using hate language like “dirty hippie”, “menace” and “terrorist” instead of “talent”, “entertainment” and “artist”.

  • Jane

    I live in Ithaca…trust me, they are a menace. The girl tried to impersonate a paraplegic just so she could scam her way to free medical care, while the paraplegic would have gotten the bill for the services. The Ithaca Sovereign Nation are a bunch of TERRORISTS and need to be rocketed off the planet. Slaves to the government, my ass. Steal a frickin’ clue, Richard.

  • richard

    You are slaves to the.goverment do research and you will relize they have legitmate claims your just so use to being owned that you belive its okay for them to do this to us

  • Harry

    I’ve met this Godsent guy before. He doesn’t seem dangerous. Don’t sign a contract with him. He’s actually quite well-known for his sovereign citizens’ handbook “Title 4 Flag Says You’re Schwag”. You can see his interview with Russian state media outlet RT here:

  • Browne

    I’m not surprised. The only people I’ve met or know of personally are all neo-hippie burnout jerks.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Seriously, all this “sovereign” B.S. just keeps getting more ridiculous over time. This is just the latest tidbit of what’s to expect from the loony “sovereign” woodpile. I think the Judicial system has had enough with these wack-nuts. It’s a Nation of Laws, people, get over it.

  • dave

    I am not shocked at all, although its true that these sovereign movements often have a a nasty core of racism, it is not a requirement, it seems the only true prerequisite is being stupid and gullible, which comes, unfortunately, in all shapes and colors

  • CM

    Not only are they not U.S. citizens, they also don’t speak English.

  • Adam Holland

    Marijuana-induced ignorance of the law is no defense.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Well Aron, you said it before I did. I guess those stinky hippies want to revive the glory hey days of the “anti-government era”(1960s). The good ol’ days of COINTELPRO, Woodstock, free love and weed.

    Sorry, but I ain’t that old.

  • Aron Levy

    I think they might be smoking a little too much of the good stuff. Somebody had to say it.