Sovereign citizens plotted jailbreak, abduction of sheriff and judge

A former Tennessee resident was convicted last week on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Michael Wayne Parsons, 57, has also been linked to an extremist plot to kidnap a Nebraska sheriff and a Tennessee judge last year.

Parsons claims to be an “ambassador” and “associate chief justice” of the Universal Supreme Court of the Tsilhqot’in, a sovereign citizen group based in the Canadian province of British Columbia, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. He also falsely claims to be a citizen of “Chilcotin,” a designated region in British Columbia, Canada, dedicated to the legitimate Tsilhqot'in indigenous people (also called the Chilcotin).

The case against Parsons began in March 2016, when he was charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Parsons had been previously convicted of felonious aggravated assault in 2009 when he “held two neighbors at gunpoint in what he called a citizen’s arrest after they shot one of his wolf-hybrid dogs,” according to media reporting.

On January 10, 2017, Parsons failed to appear for his court hearing related to the firearms charges in state court in Tipton County, Tennessee. A warrant was issued for his arrest. Investigators would later learn that Parsons removed his ankle monitor and fled the state in a single-engine airplane (a 1964 Piper Cherokee) he owned.

Two days later, authorities caught up with Parsons when he landed for the night at a small airport in Arapahoe, Nebraska. They located him using a GPS tracking device inside his cell phone. Parsons was arrested and transported to a local jail in Furnas County, Nebraska. A search of Parsons’ plane revealed he possessed several hundred rounds of ammunition and a LAR 14 assault rifle.

Once Parsons was in custody, his wife, Patricia, and a sovereign citizen judge, Suzanne Holland (self-appointed Chief Justice of the Universal Supreme Court of the Tsilhqot’in Nation) began sending fake legal paperwork ordering Parsons’ release and issuing bogus arrest warrants for Sheriff Kurt Kapperman of Furnas County, Nebraska (where Parsons was being held), as well as Tipton County, Tennessee, Circuit Court judge Joe Walker, who issued the warrant for Parsons’ arrest. When these false orders were ignored, they began plotting to break Parsons out of jail and abduct the two officials.

Both women reportedly hired a New Orleans bounty hunter (also an FBI confidential informant) to free Parsons and kidnap the sheriff and judge. They wanted all three men transported to Canada where the two officials would face bogus “criminal charges” in a sovereign citizen kangaroo court. Patricia Parsons and Suzanne Holland were later arrested by the FBI for plotting the jail break and abductions.

Holland and Parsons’ group had been previously disavowed by the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG), an officially recognized indigenous tribe in Canada. The TNG had corresponded with both the provincial and federal ministers explaining that “the Universal Supreme Court of the Tsilhqot’in group does not represent or speak for the Tsilhqot’in people,” according to Graham Gillies, a TNG communications manager.

On September 1, 2017, Patricia Parsons pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting solicitation to commit kidnapping, according to a Justice Department press release. She was later sentenced to 60 months in prison.

On August 9, 2017, Suzanne Holland (also known as “Zsuzsanna Hegedus”) was ordered to stand trial in Canada on the attempted abduction charge, but no trial date has been set. There have been no media updates concerning her trial. She reportedly failed to appear for her court hearings. To date, criminal charges have not been filed against Holland in Nebraska.

Michael Parsons faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of post-release supervision for the two firearms convictions. His sentencing is currently scheduled for Dec. 7, 2018.

A fourth individual, Anthony Todd Weverka (President, Arapahoe Airport Authority and friend of Parsons), was also arrested in 2017 in relation to this case. He is charged with misprision of felony (the deliberate concealment of one’s knowledge of a felony or treasonable act). Authorities believe Weverka knew of the existence of felony offenses by Mike and Pat Parsons and the planned kidnapping of the sheriff. Authorities claim that Weverka “provided assistance to the Parsons, that he failed to disclose his knowledge of the details of the plot to law enforcement and that he made false statements to the sheriff,” according to media reporting. Weverka also continued communications with Holland as the plot unfolded.

In December 2017, Weverka admitted to committing the criminal offense and entered into a pretrial diversion agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and 50 hours of community service.

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