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‘Sovereign Citizen’ Leader Goes on Trial for Tax Fraud

By Ryan Lenz on March 20, 2013 - 12:19 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens

Federal prosecutors opened the trial of one the nation’s most prominent “sovereign citizens” leaders by portraying him as nothing more than a con man who used antigovernment ideology to peddle illegal debt- and tax-relief scams to the financially troubled.

But James Timothy Turner, delivering his own opening statement at the trial that began Monday in Montgomery, Ala., cast himself as the victim. “I discovered things that big Washington government doesn’t want you know,” he said. “They’re trying to shut me up.”

Turner faces 10 tax charges, including conspiring to defraud the federal government, attempting to pay his own taxes with a fictitious financial instrument and attempting to obstruct an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigation. He faces up to 164 years in prison and large financial penalties if convicted on all charges.

Based in the southeast Alabama town of Ozark, Turner, 57, heads what may be the largest and most organized group of antigovernment sovereign citizens in the country – the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA).

Much of the testimony during the first day of Turner’s trial focused on financial schemes Turner taught during seminars across the nation from 2006 to 2010. Using what he called “Freedom Documents,” Turner claimed to be able to help clients absolve themselves of mortgage, tax or credit card debt. For as little as $50 for a few minutes of his time to well over $300 for a two-day seminar, Turner purported to expose the secrets of the legal and banking systems.

In reality, he was teaching his clients how to dupe unsuspecting bankers and court officers, federal prosecutor Justin Gelfand said. Turner and others would spend Saturday mornings around a color printer making dozens of fraudulent bank bonds to sell to clients. “They’re designed to look real enough to make the government accept them,” Gelfand said. “[But] they’re, in fact, worth nothing more than Monopoly money.”

According to the federal indictment handed down last September, Turner is accused of using a fictitious financial instrument, purportedly valued at $300 million, to pay his own taxes and to have assisted others who wanted to get out of paying their taxes. Those people included Thomas Frye, a 59-year-old pharmacist from Andalusia, Ala., who is serving a prison sentence for attempting to pay a $250,000 income tax debt with bonds Turner helped him create.

Frye testified on Monday that he met Turner in the parking lot of a Walmart in Enterprise, Ala., to pick up the bogus documents. It was there that the two affixed the documents with red thumb prints next to their signatures – a tell-tale sovereign tactic.

But shortly after Frye sent the bond to the IRS, he and his wife, Kathy, were indicted for conspiring to defraud the government. He was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by six months of house arrest. Frye said that when he approached Turner to find out what went wrong, Turner said he “was sorry to hear that, and told us to hang in there.”

Most of the charges Turner now faces stem from his early days as a sovereign citizen, just as he was getting turned on to the ideology. Sovereigns generally believe that they – not judges, juries or police – get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. In recent years, sovereigns have clogged up courts with indecipherable filings, much like what Turner was teaching, and in some cases have lashed out violently against law enforcement officials, often during traffic stops.

Turner, however, went further than most sovereigns. In audio recordings gathered by undercover IRS agents that were played in court, he bragged of being better than others in peddling financial schemes and expressed his dreams of leading a nation of “the sovereign people.” In 2010, when Turner was part of a group called the Guardians for the free Republics (GFR), he sent letters to all 50 governors demanding they step down. The following year, he formed RuSA, which grew to have a presence in nearly every state, and proclaimed himself the president of a government-in-waiting that would rule the country after the U.S. government collapsed.

Despite all his bombast, prosecutors argued that Turner was nothing more than a huckster. “It was all about the money for Mr. Turner,” Gelfand said. “All about the fraud.”

  • http://spla Lisa

    It amazes me how gullable and just plain stupid. The sovereign citizen movement is just another cultish way for idiots to think they have power. Luckily, they eventually end up in jail.

  • Valhalla

    Aron, et. al.;

    Apology accepted; no hard feelings. Despite my colorful appellation I am not a total white-wing nut job; well, not totally, but I do look adorable in leather and chainmail… I shall attempt to keep my comments apropos but, maybe slightly barbed…

  • Reynardine

    Yeah, he did, but he overinflated her and she busted.

  • Aron

    Hey Brock, how’s that search for the ‘perfect’ woman going?

    You found a wife yet?

  • Brock Henderson

    Coming from a guy who says that race is not rooted in biology, the label “nutcase,” directed at somebody else, means absolutely nothing.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Valhalla, I have known Aron for some time and been on this site for some time, and I can assure you…his ire is solely directed at blatant junior Fascists.

    Unfortunately, there are a great many trolls who haunt this site, often under different names, who post irrelevant stories, mostly to espouse their causes, gain adherents, and “carry the fight” to their enemies.

    One of them, as a matter of fact, uses the very tactic Aron was concerned about…saying that a given SPLC story is not important, but an outdated tale of a black-on-white bashing (in many cases from 10 years ago) is “proof” that whites are under threat, and neo-Nazism is the way to go.

    We are aware of the Moorish nation, and I have seen articles in SPLC publications and on this blog, describing their nefarious activities. Periodically, they set up stands in sites around New York City, denouncing all non-black passersby, with considerable vitriol. They are indeed bad advertisements for America’s African-American community, and I suspect that their leadership consists of confidence men who prey upon the disenfranchised and desperate in a mirror-image of David Duke and his ilk.

    Regrettably, this site has had an influx of unpleasant people, junior Fascists with penknives to grind, who make up in anger and fury what they lack in comprehension skills, decency, humanity, and compassion, and those of us who manifest those values have had our patience worn down by these fools who will neither change their views nor the subject.

    I hope that you continue to post here, in a moderate and pro-humanity line. You will find a very welcoming community here, which will treat you with respect.

  • Aron


    I apologize for my initial rudeness. However, if you were to read the rest of the site, you migh see that my suspicious were well-earned.

    Just look how many people stop by once to slag blacks, Jews, gays, Latinos, et c.

    I made an assumption based upon your name and your content, and I was wrong. I rescind my insults.

    And I hope you decide to stick around. New folks are always welcome. Just watch out for Brock. He’s a nutcase of the first degree ad possesses a mean streak a mile wide.

  • Valhalla

    You are a very rude little person.

    As a first time poster on this site I simply provided a link to a very interesting article about another person involved with a similar scam. I do not see any button or link to share a newsworthy story with the moderators of this site so I, without negative comments on any kind, chose to share the link via a comment.

    I have READ with great interest the other articles regarding the “Moors”, thank you very much.

    I see from the continuous barbed commentary on this site that there are many posters who are simply provocateurs however, I do not see that your statement of “adorably dumb white bunny” is anything less than prejudiced based on your pre-conceived assumptions that I must be dumb or white. You were right on the adorable part, though.

    As this was my first time using the comments section I am not familiar enough with your continuing drama to even know whom “Preston Wiginton” might be or what “The Mantra” refers to.

    Barring evidence to the contrary, perhaps you could not assume that everyone but you is a white-wing-nut and try being kind to new people and make them feel welcome instead of threatened.

  • Sam Molloy

    When the IRS was begun, it was on the basis of it taxing only the “very rich”. People who made like $5,000 a year. Now that we are all rich, even struggling families pay into the system. Don’t wish for the 90% bracket to be reinstated, because, unless Government spending is curtailed, and the Democrat’s printing press is unplugged, in a few short years “we’ll all be millionaires”.

  • Aron

    Hey Pete,

    They couldn’t be further from socialists or communists.

    Sovereigns are generally on the far right, next to the fascists.

    And what’s wrong with godlessness?

  • Pete McNesbitt

    Really he has got to be kidding starting up his own country with the acronym of RuSA? Why not just put the i back into it so it finishes spelling the word RUSSIA, he and his followers are nothing but god hating commies and socialists.

  • Aron

    Adam, you make a very good point.

    I concede that argument.

  • adamhill

    Aron, I don’t agree. Lew Rockwell and Alex Jones only love the ad revenue.

  • Brock Henderson

    “The IRS and Federal Reserve are completely legal.”

    Make your case, please, Aron. Do a good job shilling for the wealthiest 1% of the population that you and the SPLC love so much, and show how, where, and when that authority was Constitutionally delegated to the Federal government by the American people.

  • Aron

    Sure thing Steve.

    Feel free I stop paying taxes. But stop using the roads. Stop going to public school. Stop using state and national parks and forests.

    Stop drinking water. Stop breathing clean air. Go fight your own wars, and rely on yourself for defense. Basically, stop existing in a civilized nation.

    Otherwise, shut your damned mouth. The IRS and Federal Reserve are completely legal, regardless of what Ron Paul tells you. And just because you don’t like paying taxes doesn’t mean you don’t still HAVE TO.

    Now go and cry to Lew Rockwell and Alex Jones. They love you. But they love your ad revenue even more.

  • treborozal

    Funny thing is… we have no leader…

  • Carroll Robinson

    The sad thing is the only difference between him and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street that scammed mortgages,wrecked housing values and finally tanked the economy is the financial instruments were real thing.

  • Steve

    The idea that the IRS is a legitemate govt agency is a lie. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was never ratified by the require amount of states neccessary to make it law. The “FED” is nothing more than a private corporation owned by a conglomeration of the very banks that caused the 2008 collapse and own the corporation called The United States. They also own the CEO known as Barrack Obama. They own and run all of our so-called pollititions. The idea that James Turner commited tax fraud against the illegal IRS is laughable.

  • Sam Molloy

    Valhalla, I am moor impressed with how handsome Lamont is than with his politics. He’s got good taste in houses, too.

  • Aron

    Hey Valhalla you adorably dumb white bunny,

    If you actually READ the site, you’d see there are plenty of stories about ‘Moorish Nationals.’

    But you’re simply here because Preston Wiginton told you to comment.

    Now why don’t you bring out The Mantra?

  • Valhalla


    You seem to have missed a story regarding other “sovereigns”:

  • concernedcitizen

    This is really sad and what’s worse is that there are probably hundreds of people who have been duped by this clodpoll.

    We have laws and within those laws we can fight and try to change things, but no one man can walk up and start making up the rules and expect America’s judicial system to bow to it. We are free to fight within the judicial system and may the best advocate win.

    But what would compel people to think that this man who I doubt even has a law degree could just start circumventing a system of law that the American public has in place?

    I don’t understand why people would fall for this nonsense.

    “Frye testified on Monday that he met Turner in the parking lot of a Walmart in Enterprise, Ala., to pick up the bogus documents. It was there that the two affixed the documents with red thumb prints next to their signatures – a tell-tale sovereign tactic.

    But shortly after Frye sent the bond to the IRS, he and his wife, Kathy, were indicted for conspiring to defraud the government. He was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by six months of house arrest. Frye said that when he approached Turner to find out what went wrong, Turner said he “was sorry to hear that, and told us to hang in there.”

    So how many lives has this man actually ruined?

  • Gregory

    Fish got to swim, birds got to fly and grifters got to grift.