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In what appears to be yet another sign that the federal government is cracking down hard on key figures in the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, officials in upstate New York last week unsealed a grand jury indictment of Glenn Richard Unger, who goes by the alias of Dr. Sam Kennedy, on charges that he filed fraudulent federal tax forms.
The seven-count indictment against Unger, 62, of Ogdensburg, N.Y, was brought by a federal grand jury in Syracuse last month, the Watertown Daily Times reported today. The indictment accused Unger, who the Southern Poverty Law Center profiled as a major sovereign leader in 2010, of filing fraudulent tax-refund claims amounting to $36 million between 2007 and 2011. Unger was arraigned last week and remains in custody while a judge considers setting a bond for him.
While Unger is hardly the first sovereign citizen to face charges for tax crimes, his arrest — coupled with the arrest last year of sovereign guru James Timothy Turner — suggests a major effort by the federal government to go after longstanding sovereign icons. The importance of that effort is reflected by the fact that the FBI last year publicly identified sovereigns as part of a “domestic terrorist” movement.
As host of the popular online radio show “Take No Prisoners,” Unger was certainly a leader. One of the more secretive figures in the movement, Unger did not maintain a marketing website and didn’t allow followers to videotape his speaking engagements. He marketed his “Beneficiaries in Commerce” program as a cure-all for everything from tax bills and debt elimination to what he calls “prison extraction.” But his influence ran deep.
Unger was one of the original “elders” of the now-defunct Guardians for the free Republics, which in 2010 became the focus of an FBI investigation after the group sent letters to all 50 state governors demanding they leave office. In the scrutiny that followed, Unger began fighting for control of the Guardians, which collapsed amid the tensions, only to regroup months later as the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA) under Turner’s leadership. RuSA has since grown to become the largest and most organized sovereign group active in the country.
But last September, the Justice Department got Turner, too. A federal grand jury indicted Turner for old tax crimes, including allegedly attempting to pay his own taxes with a fictitious $300 million bond and giving assistance to others who wanted to get out paying taxes with similar bonds. Turner was denied bond and remains in federal custody awaiting trial later this year.
A jury trial for Unger has been scheduled for March 4 in Binghamton. If found guilty, Unger faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.