The sovereign files: 2/1/18

In this month’s Sovereign Files, a sovereign flat-earther attacks a neighbor with nunchucks, another tries to claim a religious exemption from taxes, and more.

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 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. Others have resorted to violence, including acts of domestic terrorism when they felt their freedoms were infringed upon.

INDIANA

Rodney Tyms-Bey

Rodney Tyms-Bey of Indianapolis falsely reported his income and deductions for tax year 2012 and was charged with three class D felonies in 2014. Tyms-Bey initially tried to get out of it by claiming he was an estate, rather than a person. When that failed, he latched onto a new bill signed into law by Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana. The state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enacted on March 26, 2015 and took effect on July 1, 2015.

That same day, July 1, Tyms-Bey filed a motion defending his actions as religious activities, although he refused to say what religion he practiced or how paying taxes specifically interfered with it. The court ruled against Tyms-Bey, but he refused to give up, bringing his case before the Indiana Court of Appeals. The appellate court looked at the broader issue of religious exemptions from taxes that his case brought up and decided that, “[b]ecause the broad public interest in maintaining a sound tax system is of such a high order, religious belief in conflict with the payment of taxes affords no basis for resisting the tax.” And with that, Tyms-Bey lost his case.

NEVADA

Thomas Benson

Benson has been in court, facing charges for stealing a Nevada home that was in foreclosure through a series of illegal maneuvers. The specific charges include false representation concerning title, two counts of preventing or dissuading a person from testifying or producing evidence, interfering with a public officer and two counts of bribing or intimidating a witness to influence testimony.

Benson made a deal with the prosecutors, agreeing to plead guilty to charge of false representation. Then, at his hearing on January 8, 2018 when he was meant to enter his guilty plea, he reneged. Instead he told the judge he wanted to enter an “Alfors [sic] plea.” An Alfords plea is a guilty plea where the defendant does not admit guilt. The judge explained this to Benson and told him a defendant typically could not enter one without prior negotiations. The prosecutor objected to Benson’s request and he faces sentencing on May 7.

NEW JERSEY

George Gaymon

In the course of one day, March 24, 2014, George Gaymon and Mario McClain stole two vehicles, robbed a gas station, then carjacked another vehicle at gunpoint. Three days later Gaymon and McClain used the vehicle they carjacked earlier to perpetrate another carjacking, where they stole the driver’s pocketbook.

They used the stolen credit cards to make purchases at multiple locations and were caught on camera, leading to their arrests.

Gaymon was charged with unlawful weapons possession, first degree armed robbery, carjacking, theft, conspiracy and credit card fraud

When the case went to trial, Gaymon declared himself a sovereign citizen and refused to follow the court’s directions. He was summarily ejected from the courtroom.

On January 29, 2018, Gaymon was convicted and will be sentenced on March 12.

OHIO

Lenvil Persinger

It is alleged that Lenvil Persinger of Piqua, Ohio used nunchucks to attack a man in a nearby apartment on January 22, 2018. This was not Persinger’s first brush with the law. He has been arrested over three dozen times in the small town of Piqua, population 20,522. Charges include traffic violations such as operating a motor vehicle without a license, driving under suspension, and driving on the left side of the road. He has also been charged with more serious crimes including domestic violence and multiple assaults. 0n October 22, 2017 Persinger was accused of pointing a gun at a police officer, upset about the noise the officer was making as he looked into a suspicious call at Persinger’s apartment building.

Familiar with Persinger’s antics and his sovereign citizen ideology the police department took extra precautions during his arrest, bringing in the Piqua-Sidney Tactical Response Team to assist. Persinger has been charged with aggravated burglary, felonious assault, inducing panic, criminal damaging or endangering, tampering with evidence and obstructing official business. His bond is set at $33,000.

When Persinger is not behind bars, he runs an online group “… for anyone who is tired of the lies and propaganda thats being used to brainwash and fool the masses....thats being used to brainwash and fool the masses....thats being used to brainwash and fool the masses.... thats being used to brainwash and fool the masses.... thats being used to brainwash and fool the masses....thats [sic] being used to brainwash and fool the masses” where he shares anti-government and flat-earther conspiracies.

 

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.