Longtime Militiaman Drew Rayner Facing Trial for Mail Fraud

NOTE: HateWatch has learned that Drew Allen Rayner has prominent ties to the antigovernment “sovereign citizen” movement. In April 2010, Rayner was one several sovereign citizens who signed a letter sent to all 50 governors demanding they vacate their offices, or else. The Guardians for the free Republics (GFR), a group which included the vanguard of the sovereign citizen movement, organized the letter campaign. Another sovereign citizen who signed the letters was James Timothy Turner, a sovereign guru who heads the Republic for the united States of America (RUSA) – one of the largest and most ambitious sovereign groups active in the United States.

A major figure in the antigovernment militia movement for the past two decades has been indicted for mail fraud in Mississippi. Prosecutors allege that Drew Allen Rayner, 72, gave a fake promissory note to the town of Poplarville to pay a court-ordered fine.

Rayner, who is set to go to trial on Oct. 3, faces up to 55 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

On the antigovernment conspiracy site Prison Planet, a posting describes an incident in which Rayner was subjected to “terrorism” and “armed assault” on March 3 by police in Pearl River County when he was arrested for various traffic violations, including lack of proof of insurance and not wearing a seat belt. In the posting, which appears to be written by “GERayner,” it is claimed that Drew Rayner “was arrested on trumped up traffic charges” and subjected to “Armed kidnapping and unlawful detainment.” The post uses a derogatory term for the U.S. popular in militia circles – “This is obviously AMERIKA.” It ends with, “More to come after I go puke from anger and disgust.”

Drew’s wife, Nancy, confirmed that the traffic incident led to the court-ordered fine that Rayner allegedly tried to pay with a bogus promissory note. “He was set up,” Nancy Rayner told Hatewatch. “He wasn’t driving reckless.” She claimed a SWAT team was involved in his traffic arrest. Nancy Rayner also claimed that a SWAT team and FBI agents visited their home yesterday to question him “about a fraudulent check.” She said Drew was arrested, detained and then released.

Rayner is an old hand in the militia movement. In the 1990s, he headed the North Mississippi Militia. He was also a senior leader in the Southeastern States Alliance (SSA), a long-defunct Southern coalition of militia groups. In 1999, the SSA’s head, Donald Beauregard, was charged in connection with a plot to bomb energy facilities in Florida and Georgia. Beauregard – who once claimed to have discovered a secret map printed on a box of Trix cereal that detailed a planned U.N. takeover of the U.S. – ended up serving four years in prison and was released in 2004.

Rayner is one of 20 people who signed an April 14, 1996, declaration delivered to the FBI regarding a then-ongoing standoff involving members of the Montana Freeman who were holed up on their armed compound, “Justus Township,” near Jordan, Mont. In 1996, FBI agents arrested Freeman head LeRoy Schweitzer for felony criminal syndicalism, precipitating what would turn out to be an 81-day standoff between agents and the Freemen that ultimately ended peacefully.

The Montana Freemen rejected the authority of the U.S. government, declared themselves “sovereign citizens” beyond U.S. law, and attempted to set up their own government. Schweitzer, the group’s head, was racist and anti-Semitic. Most of the Freemen drew long prison terms after the siege ended; Schweitzer was sent to federal prison for 22 years.

The 1996 declaration signed by Rayner and several other well-known militia figures demanded that the Freeman be tried by a “Constitutional Grand Jury” (sovereign citizens often demand special juries to be convened outside the judicial system) and called the FBI’s actions “unlawful.” The declaration included a threat: “If any action is taken against any signer, their families or any supporter of this Declaration, it will be considered an act of war.” The declaration continued, “We will then no longer restrain our brethren from the use of whatever lawful force is necessary to eliminate the threat of unlawful federal enforcement authority.”

Rayner continues to be involved in the militia movement as a member of the Well Regulated American Militias.