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‘Sovereign Citizens’ Guru Sentenced to Nearly Five Years in Scam

By Leah Nelson on October 28, 2011 - 1:00 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens

A Las Vegas federal judge yesterday sentenced influential “sovereign citizen” Samuel Lynn Davis of Idaho to 57 months in prison for his role in a $1.3 million money laundering scheme, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

In 2009, following a three-year FBI investigation into activities by Las Vegas sovereigns, who generally believe they don’t have to obey most laws or pay taxes, Davis and co-defendant “Rabbi” Shawn Rice were indicted on 31 counts of bank fraud and money laundering. Taking about $96,000 in fees between them, they laundered $1.3 million for undercover FBI agents who told them the money came from stolen and forged bank checks.

Rice is currently a fugitive, but Davis — who previously claimed he did not have to pay taxes and considered U.S. currency invalid, and also used sovereign-style “paper terrorism” against the officials attempting to bring him to justice — pleaded guilty in March, one day before his trial to was to begin. Though he accepted responsibility for his crimes, he complained that the FBI targeted him for his beliefs — a contention that U.S. District Judge James Mahan dismissed as nonsense. “You’re charged with money laundering,” Mahan told Davis. “That’s why you’re here today.”

In addition to his upcoming prison term, Davis has been ordered to pay $95,782 in restitution to the government, and will be subject to three years of supervised release when he gets out prison, the Review-Journal reports.

Davis is a major figure on the sovereign scene. He was an “elder” in the Guardians of the Free Republics, a group that in 2010 fruitlessly demanded that all 50 governors step down. And under the nickname “I am: Sam” (whose odd punctuation follows conventions used by sovereigns who believe it exempts them from government authority), he hosted seminars promulgating the so-called “redemption” scam, a bizarre technique that supposedly allows participants to tap into huge amounts of cash that the government is thought to keep in their name. Davis shared Web space with other key redemption gurus – including Jerry Kane, who with his 16-year-old son Joseph shot to death two West Memphis, Ark., police officers who had pulled them over in a routine traffic stop in May 2010.

  • CM

    “Taking about $96,000 in fees between them, they laundered $1.3 trillion for undercover FBI agents who told them the money came from stolen and forged bank checks.”

    Um, there would appear to be a misplaced decimal point somewhere. Or else these guys somehow succeeded in laundering about 9 percent of the nation’s 2010 gross domestic product. If that’s the case, $96,000 is a pretty paltry payoff.

  • IludiumPhosdex

    Is it just me, or are those styling themselves “sovereign citizens” technically considered Stateless Nationals under international law and convention?

  • jonas

    What this article describes is possibly yet another “entrapment” scheme, a particularly unethical and mendacious sting, where a paid FBI agent pretends to be a criminal and tricks or convinces an initially unwilling participant to commit a crime. The FBI has been know to use those slimy tactic before (our tax dollars hard at work?), and many questions are unanswered. The RJ (a local right-wing rag) article sort-of got around to the question of this being an entrapment sting when it quoted Todd Leventhal, the defense attorney, as saying that the FBI baited Davis into money laundering. However, it does not address the question further,giving the reader the idea that it was just the attorney trying to do his best at defending his client for money. What if it is true, though? Who approached who first, the FBI agent or the “sovereign”? What evidence does the defense have for the claim of entrapment? Maybe it is worth looking into, because this might not be so black-and-white as it is portrayed in corporate media. It is possible that Davis did not originally set out to launder money, but that the FBI tricked him into doing so.