Looking for 'Little Brother'
John and Julieanne Dimitrion were three days away from being sentenced for operating a lucrative mortgage scam in Hawaii. They were young, good-looking and wealthy.
Then, on Dec. 3, 2010, John disguised himself as an epileptic who needed treatment at a mainland hospital. Lying on a gurney and attached to fake medical machines, he was wheeled toward a privately chartered jet heading for Utah, while Julieanne posed as his nurse.
Then, as quickly as they could board, they were gone.
“I was absolutely shocked when I heard how they got out of town. Where the hell did that come from?” said attorney Michael Green, who represented John Dimitrion. He added, “Somebody reached out to them.”
Two years after their disappearance, sources within the FBI and Justice Department tell the Intelligence Report that the Dimitrions’ sophisticated flight from justice was orchestrated by the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA), the largest and most organized group of “sovereign citizens” in the country.
In late 2010, the Justice Department believes, John Dimitrion and RuSA’s president, James Timothy Turner, began corresponding online and immediately hit it off. With Turner referring to Dimitrion as “Little Brother,” plans were soon hatched for what would become a rescue mission.
The flight out of Hawaii was only the first part of their journey, however. The FBI now knows that after landing in Utah, the Dimitrions traveled to South Alabama, where they lived in a mobile home on the banks of Lake Eufaula, a sprawling lake along the Georgia border about 50 miles from Turner’s home in Ozark, Ala. As the investigation continued, the FBI added the couple to its “Most Wanted” list and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to their capture. Last July, their case was featured in the premier episode of CNBC’s “American Greed: The Fugitives.” But by the time the Dimitrions were tracked to Lake Eufaula, they were gone again.
Their daring escape has proven particularly confounding to law enforcement, both because of the sophistication and guile of their flight but also due to the Dimitrions’ surprisingly swift entrée into the sovereign citizens underground.
Sovereign citizens, who generally believe that they are not subject to most tax and criminal laws, are known for engaging in wild financial schemes related to their bizarre ideology. But nothing about the Dimitrions’ crimes came close to resembling the scams that sovereigns often use to avoid paying taxes or escape mortgages.
They were ostentatiously wealthy, with matching Maseratis. John, 36, loved high-end personal electronics and jewelry and had an extensive collection of Airsoft replica firearms. Julieanne, 32, adored couture, designer purses and expensive lingerie from stores like Frederick’s of Hollywood. The FBI says she tried to claim tens of thousands of dollars spent on lingerie as “business expenses” on her taxes.
The charges against the couple stemmed from a scam their company, Mortgage Alliance, used to dupe a handful of distressed homeowners out of their property. Authorities say they persuaded the victims to relinquish their property while promising to invest the proceeds of the sales. Instead, they used the money to fund their lavish lifestyle. Charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and making false statements, the Dimitrions entered into a sentencing agreement in exchange for their guilty pleas.
In the months before their sentencing, FBI Special Agent Tom Simon told the Report, there were signs suggesting the Dimitrions began learning about the sovereign citizens movement. John spent hours scouring online legal forums and discussion boards looking for any way out of his legal problems. Instead, he found a world full of odd financial advice and sovereign ideas including the “straw man.” (In sovereign thought, the “straw man” is a secret doppelganger the federal government maintains to sell the worth of each U.S. citizen to foreign interests. Sovereigns think it is possible, if only they file the right documents, to extract millions from the government account supposedly held in the name of their personal straw man.)
“John was into the world of debt relief scams, and his interest in those scams led him into online communities involving sovereign citizens,” Simon said. “We never got the impression during the course of our original fraud investigation … that they were true believers. … It seems much more likely that John, in his quest for get-rich-quick schemes, stumbled upon the ‘straw man.’”
While it is unknown exactly how Turner and Dimitrion came together, investigators believe the two developed a relationship online and that Turner hoped the Dimitrions’ expertise forging financial documents could be a key to unlocking secret federal accounts — those mythical “straw man” accounts — to fund RuSA.
“Everybody connected to Turner had something to offer him for moving forward his ideology,” said one federal official who requested anonymity because of ongoing investigations. “The people that Turner helped, not just the Dimitrions, were all people who could provide something. But, if you don’t come through on what you tell him you can do, he kicks you to the curb pretty quick.”
Authorities don’t know if RuSA is still hiding the Dimitrions, or if Turner kicked them to the curb. But with Turner now awaiting trial on federal tax crimes, and the brunt of federal energy focused on dismantling what will remain of RuSA after Turner, investigators’ interest in piecing together just how the Dimitrions helped Turner grows less interesting, Simon said.
In fact, there’s only one focus concerning the Dimitrions now.
“We’re not concerned with what bumper sticker Turner had on his car at the time, or what he was calling his idiot followers,” Simon said. “All we care about is where the Dimitrions are now.”