Tyrone Eugene Jordan, described as an antigovernment sovereign citizen, will spend 10 years in prison for filing $6.5 million in bogus liens against a federal judge and prosecutor.
U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller handed down the sentence Friday in Houston where Jordan, 45, was convicted by jury following a trial in July. He was found guilty of three counts of retaliation against a federal officer or employee.
Trial evidence showed that in October 2014 Jordan filed a fraudulent lien -- a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) financial statement -- with the Texas Secretary of State, claiming that a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Texas owed him $6.5 million.
Then, last January, Jordan knowingly filed two separate fraudulent “Obligation Commercial Lien” affidavits with the Harris County Clerk’s Office against the same prosecutor and a federal judge.
Filing bogus liens is a common practice for many sovereign citizens, who believe they are under no obligation to follow laws or licensing and taxing requirements and frequently flood courts with nonsensical legal documents.
Some sovereigns also have been involved with violence directed at law enforcement and government officials. For the past four years, the FBI has considered sovereign citizens to be a significant domestic terrorism threat.
In the Jordan case, investigators said he filed the bogus liens against the government employees because he was angry with them for their roles in convicting him in 2010 of conspiring to commit money laundering and smuggling people. He was sentenced to five years in prison for that case, and had just been released when he filed the fraudulent liens.
As part of his new sentence, Jordan must serve 10 additional months in prison, consecutive to the five years, for violating terms of supervised release associated with his 2010 sentence.
“Jordan’s sole purpose was to harass these public servants for having done their jobs,” said U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., of the Western District of Texas. “Such malicious harassment of public officials is unacceptable.”
“Public officials should not have to suffer such harassment simply because they work to uphold the law,” Durbin said in a statement released by the Justice Department.
Jordan's lawyer, Richard Kuniansky, told the Houston Chronicle that his client never claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” or member of any antigovernment group.
“He's no terrorist,” Kuniansky told the newspaper, describing Jordan as a “helpless sap writing nonsensical letters.” The defense attorney said Jordan has “never threatened anybody” and it was a “waste of judicial resources” to bring federal charges against him.
Jordan never expected to recover any money by filing the liens, Kuniansky said, and it would have made more sense for the judge and prosecutor “to simply toss Jordan's letters in the trash can where they belong,” the Houston newspaper reported.
“He was sentenced as if he had committed some heinous crime,” the defense attorney said. “The true moral is: You don't mess with federal judges and federal prosecutors. If you do, it's not going to be a pretty sight at the end of the day.”