Hatewatch

‘Sovereign Citizens’ Guru Sentenced to Nearly Five Years in Scam

A Las Vegas federal judge yesterday sentenced influential “sovereign citizen” Samuel Lynn Davis of Idaho to 57 months in prison for his role in a $1.3 million money laundering scheme, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

In 2009, following a three-year FBI investigation into activities by Las Vegas sovereigns, who generally believe they don’t have to obey most laws or pay taxes, Davis and co-defendant “Rabbi” Shawn Rice were indicted on 31 counts of bank fraud and money laundering. Taking about $96,000 in fees between them, they laundered $1.3 million for undercover FBI agents who told them the money came from stolen and forged bank checks.

Rice is currently a fugitive, but Davis — who previously claimed he did not have to pay taxes and considered U.S. currency invalid, and also used sovereign-style “paper terrorism” against the officials attempting to bring him to justice — pleaded guilty in March, one day before his trial to was to begin. Though he accepted responsibility for his crimes, he complained that the FBI targeted him for his beliefs — a contention that U.S. District Judge James Mahan dismissed as nonsense. “You’re charged with money laundering,” Mahan told Davis. “That’s why you’re here today.”

In addition to his upcoming prison term, Davis has been ordered to pay $95,782 in restitution to the government, and will be subject to three years of supervised release when he gets out prison, the Review-Journal reports.

Davis is a major figure on the sovereign scene. He was an “elder” in the Guardians of the Free Republics, a group that in 2010 fruitlessly demanded that all 50 governors step down. And under the nickname “I am: Sam” (whose odd punctuation follows conventions used by sovereigns who believe it exempts them from government authority), he hosted seminars promulgating the so-called “redemption” scam, a bizarre technique that supposedly allows participants to tap into huge amounts of cash that the government is thought to keep in their name. Davis shared Web space with other key redemption gurus – including Jerry Kane, who with his 16-year-old son Joseph shot to death two West Memphis, Ark., police officers who had pulled them over in a routine traffic stop in May 2010.