A New Jersey sovereign citizen has been arrested for filing fraudulent liens against four public officials, the first time an individual has been charged under a state statute enacted in May 2015, which makes the filing of such liens a criminal offense of the second degree.
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) announced earlier today that Courtney G. Alexander, 39, of Irvington, New Jersey, was arrested on Wednesday by NJOHSP detectives. Alexander has been indicted on state charges of two counts of second-degree fraudulent filings and one count of third-degree retaliation against a witness and is being held in an Essex County jail pending a detention hearing.
Alexander was issued traffic tickets by two Irvington police officers in July 2015 and subsequently appeared before a prosecutor and judge in a municipal court in Irvington. After an unfavorable judgment against Alexander, he filed property liens in retaliation against both officers, the prosecutor, and the judge, totaling over $1.5 million. In April 2016, NJOHSP became aware of the filings made by Alexander and initiated an investigation which revealed he identified as a sovereign citizen.
Sovereign citizens are defined by the FBI as “anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in the country, they are separate or ‘sovereign’ from the United States.” The filing of fraudulent property liens and threats against police officers, judges, and public officials is a common tactic used by sovereign citizens, who do not recognize any governmental authority. Sovereign citizens have also engaged in numerous shootouts with law enforcement officers and they remain one of the highest domestic terrorism priorities for the FBI and its law enforcement partners.
Numerous states have enacted legislation to combat the filing of bogus liens against public officials. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, in announcing Alexander’s arrest, stated: “Police, prosecutors, and judges must be able to perform their vital duties without fear that they will face retaliation or harassment from defendants. As the allegations in this case illustrate, offenders can cause serious financial disruption or damage by filing fraudulent liens against the property of public servants. This new law we have invoked ensures that such conduct can be met with stiff criminal penalties.”
On the same day of Alexander’s arrest, Bruce Doucette, one of the nation’s most notorious sovereign citizens, was sentenced to 38 years in prison in a Denver courtroom for a long list of crimes, including filing bogus property liens against public officials in Colorado.