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The Sovereign Files: 11/29/17

In this month’s Sovereign Files, a famous pitchman turned pariah attempts sovereign citizenship in court, a man who calls himself “Man” is sentenced to prison and a tax preparer who sought to defraud the government will be behind bars in the New Year

Sovereign citizens are a diverse group of individuals whose activities and motives vary, but whose core tenets are the typically the same. They view United States citizenship, established government, authority and institutions as illegitimate and consider themselves immune from and therefore above the law.

A number of sovereign citizens engage in fraudulent activity, using paper terrorism to achieve their agendas and commit crimes under the mistaken hope or belief that laws do not apply to them. Some plan or take part in protests against government agencies and institutions, like the ones organized by the Bundys in Bunkerville, Nevada and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Some have resorted to violence, including acts of domestic terrorism when they felt their freedoms were infringed upon.



The former Subway pitchman who received a sentence of 15 years and eight months for child pornography and travel to engage in sexual conduct with a minor used sovereign citizen arguments in an attempt to procure his release. Serving as his own attorney, and adapting a motion filed in another unrelated case by prisoner Frank Edwin Pate, Fogle questioned the jurisdiction of the court, arguing it did not have the authority to try his case. He also claimed that he was traveling interstate in his capacity as a spokesman for Subway, not to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and if he had, Subway would be his accomplice and co-conspirator.

Former Subway pitchman and convicted child pornographer tried to use sovereign tactics to get himself released from prison.

The judge responded that the court did have subject matter jurisdiction over Fogle’s case and rejected Fogle’s motion as frivolous, writing:

Pate’s filing contends the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Fogle and states: ‘whether a judicial judgment is lawful depends on whether the sovereign has authority to 2 render it.’ Dkt. [106] at 4. If Fogle is now claiming to be ‘sovereign,’ the Seventh Circuit has rejected theories of individual sovereignty, immunity from prosecution, and their ilk.

Regardless of his theory, Fogle’s challenge of this Court’s jurisdiction is rejected and his Motion to Correct Clear Error Pursuant to Rule 52(b), Dkt. [110] is DENIED.



Hassie Demond Nowlin (aka Demond Nowlin aka Brilliant Nowlin) of Greensboro North Carolina, claimed to be a sovereign citizen and attempted to renounce his U.S. citizenship in documents he filed with the Guilford County Register of Deeds. Nowlin also participated in two common sovereign practices.

The first was the filing of pleadings in court cases he was not otherwise involved in. Nowlin was served with an injunction in 2014 for this behavior by the North Carolina state bar. The court found in the bar’s favor in a default judgement. The second was the attempt to defraud the government by filing fraudulent tax returns, including 1099-OID forms, a practice utilized by a number of sovereign citizens.

Nowlin also prepared tax returns for hundreds of other individuals, but left his name off the preparer’s line in an attempt to conceal his role. Additionally, he filed for bankruptcy on numerous occasions, but failed to disclose property and business income on the requisite forms and tried to conceal his assets by depositing them into a number of trust accounts.

When Nowlin’s crimes caught up with him, he lied to and obstructed IRS agents, according to Justice Department documents. He was indicted in June 2017 and changed his plea from not guilty to guilty in August. On November 16, Nowlin was sentenced to 37 months in prison and will begin his term on January 8, 2018.



Elias Trevino was co-owner of X2Zero vitamin shops in Corpus Christi, Texas, which sold supplements, some of which contained ingredients banned by the Food and Drug Administration, including one currently classified as a controlled substance. The supplement labels also failed to list some of the substances they contained on the list of ingredients.

Elias and Vanessa Trevino answered the court's questions with names of fruits, a legal tactic that proved to be ineffective for the sovereign couple.

These include Sibutramine, which can cause strokes, heart attacks and death, Phenolphthalein, which is a potentially carcinogen and Sildenafil, which can be dangerous if taken with drugs containing nitrates. 

In March 2017, Trevino and his partner Vanesa Trevino were indicted in the Southern District of Texas for knowingly and intentionally possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, and introducing and delivering a drug into interstate commerce by misbranding it with the intent to mislead and defraud.

The case itself was open and shut. Trevino pled guilty in May, 2017 and on November 20 he was sentenced to one year in federal prison, but not before the Trevinos took part in a number of sovereign citizen antics. The couple refused to provide their names during their pretrial conference and answered questions with phrases such as “apples, oranges, bananas.” They requested that the court appoint them counsel, but refused to fill out the requisite forms.

Later they filed a petition, calling themselves “Woman” and “Man” and citing the judge, an assistant United States attorney and a special agent as defendants. The petition demanded $100 million in damages, and was, according to the court, “very difficult, if not impossible to understand.” It was dismissed with prejudice in December, 2016. 

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