The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A self-described “sovereign citizen” who was awaiting trial for filing fraudulent tax returns was sentenced to 20 years in prison this week in Texas for attempting to have the federal judge in his case assassinated.
Phillip Monroe Ballard attempted to hire a hit man for $100,000 because he feared U.S. District Judge John McBryde would sentence him to prison for filing false federal income tax returns.
While in jail, the 72-year-old Ballard devised a plan, drew a map and arranged for a $5,000 down payment to have the judge shot with a high-powered rifle as he entered the federal courthouse in Fort Worth, court documents disclose. If that plan failed, Ballard wanted the judge’s car bombed, the documents allege.
The FBI got wind of the assassination plot in 2012 when a fellow inmate approached prison officials and notified them of the conspiracy. Ballard was indicted on May 15, 2013, and convicted of solicitation to commit murder by a federal jury on Dec. 11, following a two-day trial in Fort Worth.
During the trial, Ballard’s defense attorney said his client never actually intended to kill a judge, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported this week.
Ballard has been part of the growing, antigovernment sovereign movement for more than a decade, initially posing as an attorney and advising clients that federal income tax laws didn’t apply to them, court documents say. Sovereigns typically believe that most federal criminal and tax laws don’t apply to them. ( continue to full post… )
A Georgia judge didn’t mince words when he sentenced two “sovereign citizens” who illegally attempted to use frivolous court filings and squatting to take possession of homes.
Their actions “were nothing but thievery and burglary,” Cobb Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole told Susan Lorraine Weidman, 52, of Kennesaw, Ga., and co-defendant Matthew Lowery, 29, of Alpharetta, Ga., at sentencing hearings last Friday, the Marietta Daily Journal reported.
“This was no experiment,” the judge said. “You had folks breaking into houses, changing the locks and outright thieving. It was just incredulous to me that a citizen could think she could get away with this.”
Assistant District Attorney John Melvin told the court that “Weidman, as the ringleader, brought a lot of pain to a lot of people. You see a pattern of activity over several years in which Ms. Weidman refuses to get it,” the Marietta newspaper reported.
Then the judge sentenced Weidman to 20 years in prison and Lowery to 10 years. ( continue to full post… )
It sounded too good to be true, like something from a Burt-Reynolds-meets-Duke-of-Hazzard movie: A cross-country “Cannonball Run”-style road race, sponsored by a Southern “colonel” whose wealth comes from making copper moonshine stills, with a big $50,000 prize waiting at the end. And sure enough, as with most schemes cooked up by so-called “sovereign citizens,” it fell apart upon close scrutiny.
The race – dubbed “Cannonball One,” and described as a “coast to coast race from sea to shining sea” – required an entry fee of $90, and the website promoting it used weasel language about the prize, saying participants could “potentially win up to $50,000”. The competition, scheduled for June 1, had no check points, and any kind of road vehicle, including motorcycles, would be accepted. You could buy your entry tickets through eBay.
The man promoting the race, Vaughn Wilson of Alma, Arkansas, is a self-styled “colonel” who poses for portraits in a white Col. Sanders-style suit. He appears to make most of his income from selling copper moonshine stills that he custom builds to owners’ specifications, according to the website where he markets them.
If Wilson’s scheme sounds a bit outlandish even to ordinary members of the public, it was obviously outrageous to people in the auto-racing community, especially those who had participated in a variety of cross-country races themselves over the years. This included Matt Farah, senior editor over at the auto-racing website The Smoking Tire, who knew, as he described it in his subsequent piece, that “a proper ‘Cannonball’ in the traditional sense is a coast-to-coast, underground race. No hotels. No stopping. Invite only. Low key. Tell no one. Don’t advertise it, or we’ll all go to jail. Wait a year to release your time so the statute of limitations on speeding expires first.” ( continue to full post… )
Part of Richard Mack’s shtick has always been seeming normal. Even as he spouts far-right conspiracies about the New World Order, his suit-and-tie demeanor and slick authoritativeness give him an aura of credibility that many right-leaning audiences find compelling, if not persuasive.
Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that last weekend Mack was invited to moderate a debate in the Clark County sheriff’s race in Las Vegas, sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Nevada. And it certainly isn’t any surprise, given the fact that Mack is the leader of the far-right “constitutional sheriffs” movement, that he used that respectable-seeming podium to steer the conversation far to the right.
Mack asked a number of conspiracy-minded questions with anti-government “Patriot” movement leanings, opening with: “When government becomes venal and oppressive and out of control, can the people of Clark County count on you for peace, safety and protection?” He later asked the candidates: “Is forcing a law-abiding citizen to register their firearm unconstitutional, and will you take action to abolish the handgun registration process?”
The candidates’ answers all sturdily affirmed their opposition to such laws. One candidate, former Detective Gordon Martines, denounced the state’s gun-registration laws: “My neighbors, my friends and my family are not going to get carted off to some federal institution because of some pretend legislation. Over my dead body.”
Fortunately, for the people of Clark County, the candidates have had more grounded conversations elsewhere. At a later debate sponsored by the county’s three largest labor unions, the conversation focused on questions about sales taxes, “their leadership qualities and department morale.”
‘Sovereign’ Pleads Guilty, Expects to Spend Less Than a Year in Jail for Plot to Kidnap Police Officers
A sovereign citizen who plotted to abduct police officers in Las Vegas and execute them has pleaded guilty to his seventh felony conviction but likely will end up spending less than a year in jail.
David Allen Brutsche, a convicted sex offender from California who moved to Las Vegas to sell bottled water on the street, pleaded guilty Monday to felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping, The Associated Press reported.
Brutsche, 43, and a woman described as his roommate, 67-year-old Devon Campbell Newman, were arrested by Las Vegas police last August after a four-month undercover investigation.
Police said Brutsche, with six previous felony convictions, “was committed” to the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, considered by the FBI to be a “domestic terrorist movement.” ( continue to full post… )
Antigovernment extremists have always feared those elusive black helicopters. Now they can add government surveillance drones to their paranoia list.
In what’s being called the first case of its kind in the United States, a Predator drone operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection played a role in the arrest of a farmer who is an adherent of the anti-tax “sovereign citizens” movement and his three sons, all of whom were sentenced earlier this month in Lakota, N.D.
The case started on June 23, 2011, when a neighbor’s six cows wandered on to Rodney Brossart’s 3,600-acre farm in eastern North Dakota and Brossart didn’t immediately return them. Brossart, whose run-ins with the law and his neighbors are reportedly legendary in that part of North Dakota, was accused of threatening and fighting with deputies who went looking for the missing cows before arresting him. ( continue to full post… )
A neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, was evacuated Wednesday after authorities arrested an armed “sovereign citizen” facing eviction and then found bombs and bomb-making supplies when they searched his foreclosed home.
Mark Kulis, 55, was armed but arrested without incident by Franklin County sheriff’s deputies who waited for him to leave the residence before making the arrest at a nearby car wash, officials said.
Then, after investigators found flash powder and at least five assembled improvised explosive devices while serving a search warrant at the suspect’s home, nearby homes were ordered evacuated. One of the homemade bombs, rigged to a motion sensor, was found in an oven in the kitchen, WBNS-TV in Columbus reported.
It wasn’t clear what purpose the bombs were meant to serve. ( continue to full post… )
The arrest in late November of a prominent “Freeman” leader in Canada has underscored the recent rise of the “sovereign citizens” movement north of the border, as well as law-enforcement authorities’ concerns about that development.
Dean Clifford, a self-described “contractor from Winnipeg” who tours Canada giving lectures to paying audiences on how to avoid paying taxes by declaring oneself a “Freeman on the Land,” was arrested by Canadian authorities on Nov. 24 at a hotel in Hamilton, Ontario, shortly after giving one of his talks. He was charged with failing to show up for court hearings regarding his July 19 arrest for alleged traffic violations, and remains under arrest today.
Clifford is well known in the Canadian movement of sovereign citizens, which is composed of antigovernment activists who generally believe they do not have to follow most tax and criminal laws (many sovereigns, in both the United States and Canada, refer to themselves as “freemen.”) His videos, featuring Clifford holding forth on various means by which ordinary people can “divest” themselves of government control and taxation, are popular among followers in both Canada and the United States, where the sovereign citizen movement has long been associated with right-wing extremists and antigovernment violence. ( continue to full post… )
Following in the footsteps of other antigovernment “sovereign citizens,” Robert Carr figured he could take ownership of houses in foreclosure simply by moving in, changing the locks and filing “quiet title” legal papers.
“If you abandon something, you forfeit all your rights and title to it,” Carr told WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, “and title is not a piece of paper. Title is when you grab it and say ‘mine.’”
Prosecutors in Cincinnati did not agree. And neither did a grand jury.
In an indictment returned last Thursday, Carr, 49, was charged with three counts of breaking and entering and three counts of theft for crimes he is alleged to have committed in the Cincinnati suburbs of Springdale and Forest Park. He remains in the Hamilton County Jail under $40,000 bond.
Authorities say Carr tried to steal 11 house in foreclosure. He filed quiet title to at least one in October, claiming that physical possession made it his property. His companion and alleged accomplice, Bethany Firth, 25, was charged with one count of breaking and entering. ( continue to full post… )
A federal trial is slated to begin this week in Albany, N.Y., for an orthodontist long considered an “elder” in the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement and who now faces charges of filing bogus tax returns between 2007 and 2010 in an effort to collect millions in refunds.
Glenn Richard Unger, 62, who often uses the alias “Dr. Sam Kennedy,” is accused of trying to obtain $36 million from the IRS through bogus tax returns. Federal prosecutors have also accused him of scamming another orthodontist, according to the Times Union of Albany.
In 2006, according to prosecutors, Unger told Dr. William O’Donnell that he was giving up his dental practice to do “missionary work” and take care of his ill wife. ( continue to full post… )