His 'Straw Man' Free, a Scammer Finds the Rest of Him Isn't
As the creator of the "Redemption movement," a bizarre fusion of conspiracy theories and financial chicanery, Roger Elvick claims he has liberated his "straw man," a secret doppelganger created by the U.S. government to capture the economic value of U.S. citizens who, according to the Redemption doctrine, have unknowingly been sold into slavery to a Jewish-run international banking cabal.
But while Elvick's straw man is free—at least in his own mind—the rest of him is back in prison.
In April, Elvick pleaded guilty to one count each of forgery, extortion and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and was sentenced to four years in an Ohio state penitentiary. The 68-year-old far-right extremist and former Aryan Nations associate was charged for aiding and abetting a ring of Redemption scammers based in Akron, Ohio, home to Right Way Law, a clearinghouse for the Redemption movement's pseudo-legal shenanigans.
The Redemption movement is founded upon Elvick's outer-limits postulation that for every birth certificate issued in the U.S. since the 1936 Social Security Act, the federal government deposits $630,000 in a hidden bank account linked to the newborn American. Redemptionists claim that by executing a series of arcane legal maneuvers, a person may entitle themselves to the $630,000 held in the name of the phantom entity created at their birth, and may then access these funds with "sight drafts" — better known to business owners and prosecutors as "bogus checks." Elvick also encourages Redemption enthusiasts to harass enemies with phony property liens and IRS reports designed to provoke audits.
Elvick first started spreading his crackpot vision in the 1980s, when he was the national spokesperson for Committee of the States, a white supremacist group Elvick started with William Potter Gale, who had previously founded the Posse Comitatus, a violent anti-Semitic organization.
By 1990, Redemption groups advised by Elvick were active in 30 states and several provinces of Canada, and had tried to pass more than $15 million in bad checks. Elvick was eventually convicted of personally passing more than $1 million in sight drafts, and, in a separate case, of filing fraudulent IRS forms. He spent most of the 1990s in federal prison.
But while he was incarcerated, the Redemption movement lured ever-growing legions of antigovernment extremists with the combined promise of free money and the chance to attack the federal government with paperwork instead of guns.
After Elvick was released, he started holding expensive seminars where he instructed Redemption acolytes. It wasn't long before he was back in big trouble. Elvick was indicted on multiple felony counts in Ohio in August 2003.
During preliminary hearings, Elvick frustrated court officials by denying his identity, claiming the court had no jurisdiction over him or his straw man, and constantly interrupting with unfathomable questions about procedure. A judge ruled Elvick mentally unfit to stand trial and committed him to a correctional psychiatric facility, where he was diagnosed with an "unclassified mental disorder" and underwent nine months of treatment before facing trial. Elvick then surprised prosecutors by changing his plea to guilty.
When asked if he wished to address the court at his sentencing, the usually vociferous Elvick replied simply, "I have nothing to say."