The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
An Alaska couple who are antigovernment “sovereign citizens” face lengthy prison terms after pleading guilty Monday to charges they plotted to kill a federal judge and an IRS agent involved in a tax case against them.
Lonnie Vernon, 56, a member of Schaeffer Cox’s Alaska Peacemakers Militia, and his wife, Karen Vernon, 66, admitted conspiring to kill U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline and IRS officer Janice Stowell in 2011 in retaliation for ruling the couple owed more than $165,000 in back taxes. ( continue to full post… )
One of two antigovernment “sovereign citizens” tied to last week’s fatal shootings of two sheriff’s deputies and the wounding of two others near New Orleans had applied for a federal license to sell firearms, authorities now confirm.
The man, Terry Lyn Smith, 44, appears to be the leader of a loose-knit group of seven people that includes two of his sons. Members of the group have been linked to the apparently unprovoked shooting of a Desoto Parish sheriff’s deputy, who survived, as well as the subsequent murder of two sheriff’s deputies who tracked them to a trailer park in nearby LaPlace, La., based on a citizen’s tip. ( continue to full post… )
State and federal investigators believe at least two of the five suspects arrested in connection with a shoot-out Thursday that killed two sheriff’s deputies near New Orleans have ties to the sometimes violent, antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement.
If so, that would mean that sovereigns have now killed four law enforcement officers since May 2010 and wounded several more. The FBI in 2011 labeled sovereigns as comprising a “domestic terrorist movement.” ( continue to full post… )
Two antigovernment “sovereign citizens” who refused to get out of their truck – only to be surrounded by SWAT teams near Spokane, Wash. – ultimately were arrested Wednesday by the only authority they truly recognize: the county sheriff.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told Hatewatch today that he excused himself from an afternoon meeting at the Public Safety Building after being informed of a potentially violent standoff involving his deputies and two self-proclaimed sovereign citizens.
The truck, stopped by detectives and uniformed deputies in Otis Orchards, had invalid license plates and “was covered in sovereign citizen signs, including one that said it was a ‘noncommercial private vehicle’ and ‘no trespassing,’” The Spokesman-Review reported in Thursday’s editions. ( continue to full post… )
Federal prosecutors in Las Vegas have obtained the second conviction in a case involving two “sovereign citizen” extremists who laundered $1.3 million provided by undercover FBI agents investigating a network of sovereigns.
After a two-day nonjury trial that ended yesterday, Shawn Talbot Rice, 49, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 13 counts of money laundering. He was also convicted on four separate counts of failure to appear in court.
Rice was taken into custody last Dec. 22 after a 10-hour standoff with FBI agents and local police in Seligman, Ariz. He had been on the run for two years after failing to appear in court for a hearing in which prosecutors hoped to revoke an order allowing him to act as his own attorney. ( continue to full post… )
A state Senate candidate in eastern Iowa has abandoned her campaign and released an astounding statement that she has become a “U.S. Senator” in the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA), the largest antigovernment “sovereign citizens” group in the country.
“Let me now announce to everyone in Iowa, I have become aware of the existence of the Original Republic for The United States of America,” Randi Shannon wrote in a letter to supporters. “I have accepted the position of U.S. Senator in The Republic of The United States of America, where I may better serve You and All of The People of Iowa.”
While her announcement might sound benign, what Shannon has done in joining that “Original Republic” is nothing short of diving deep into a fantasy world that has alarmed law enforcement agencies and challenged the rule of law. Sovereigns reject the authority of the U.S. government and generally believe they do not have to pay taxes, get driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations, or follow most other laws. Most do not belong to groups like RuSA. ( continue to full post… )
The man accused of trying to bomb a Dallas-area natural gas facility last weekend appears to be a sympathizer of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement who for years has used the Internet to espouse hatred and suspicion of the federal government.
Anson Chi, 33, faces federal charges for possessing the homemade bomb used in the June 17 bombing in Plano, Texas. The explosion caused only minor damage to a pipeline and a regulator station but badly injured the suspect.
In 2007, Chi posted a YouTube video honoring Ed and Elaine Brown, a New Hampshire couple lionized on the radical right for their months-long standoff against U.S. marshals following years of tax evasion. Tearing up a federal income tax form, Chi professed the belief, common among sovereigns, that Americans are secretly permitted to not pay the tax. ( continue to full post… )
An antigovernment “tax-cheat guru” who claims the federal government has no authority over him found out differently last week when a judge ordered him to spend 12 years behind bars and pay $6.2 million in restitution.
Ronald L. Brekke, 55, of Orange County, Calif., helped nearly 1,000 people in three countries file for a total of $763 million in bogus tax refunds from the U.S. Treasury.
IRS officials say they “flagged the vast majority” of the filings from Brekke and his clients as frivolous. Even so, some $14 million in tax refunds was paid out before the agency detected the fraud. ( continue to full post… )
Buying a home can cause big headaches and quickly empty your wallet. Just ask an estimated 20 buyers in Atlanta who purchased vacant homes from two antigovernment “sovereign citizens” who are now accused of selling residences they didn’t own.
Edgar Lee Rodgers and Diana Rowe were arrested last week on charges of racketeering and theft-by-deception charges, authorities say. ( continue to full post… )
Aiming squarely at the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, Georgia’s governor on Monday signed a law that will make it a felony to file fraudulent liens against public officials or employees, a tactic known as “paper terrorism.”
Sovereign citizens, extremists who believe they don’t have to obey most laws or pay taxes and have been known to react murderously to perceived incursions on their freedom, have wreaked havoc in Georgia over the past several years.
In one of the first cases of its kind, 12 sovereigns in North Georgia were charged last March with stealing properties worth millions of dollars, including mansions and a strip mall in Atlanta’s wealthy Buckhead neighborhood. They are being prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal law originally drafted to fight organized crime but now sometimes applied to other forms of criminal enterprise. ( continue to full post… )