In this month’s Sovereign Files, the alleged Holy Fire starter pleads not guilty, it takes three officers to pull a man from his car when he refuses to move, and an accused killer says laws do not apply to him.
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, such as those organized by the Bundys in Bunkerville, Nevada, and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. Other have resorted to violence and acts of domestic terrorism when they felt their freedoms were being infringed upon.
Former RuSA member Forrest Clark is accused of setting the Holy Fire in August 2018, which burned approximately 23,000 acres of land in Southern California. Clark pleaded not guilty on Dec. 12, 2018 to three counts of arson and two counts of resisting arrest.
Court-ordered competency evaluations delayed the proceedings. The results of the first two were varied, making a third examination necessary, under which Clark was eventually found competent. His bail is currently set at $1 million, and he faces 10 years to life in prison if found guilty.
In a hearing on Dec. 12, 2018, Michael Crane plead guilty to one count of misconduct with weapons, one count of theft and three counts of burglary. The charges were related to Crane’s 2012 killing spree in Phoenix and Paradise Valley, Arizona, which left three people dead and two homes destroyed by fire.
During the hearing, Crane, who has a history of acting strangely in court, claimed to be a sovereign citizen, professed laws do not apply to him and requested confirmation of this from the judge. Crane’s attorney argued Crane is mentally incompetent and asked the judge not to accept the plea as “willing and voluntary,” while the prosecutor maintains that Crane is faking incompetence.
Michael Wayne Parsons
In January 2017, Michael Wayne Parsons faced firearms charges in Tennessee, but he failed to show up to court. Parsons fled, removed his ankle bracelet and tried to fly toward freedom in his one engine airplane. Parsons did not realize that his location was trackable using the GPS in his phone, which helped law enforcement capture him when his plane touched down in Arapahoe, Nebraska.
Police took Parsons to the Furnas, Nebraska, jail. Soon after, his wife Patricia, and a Canadian sovereign citizen, Suzanne Holland, who considers herself a chief justice of an imaginary Canadian common law court where Michael Parsons is an “Ambassador” got involved. The women sent documents full of fake legalese to the Furnas jail and Tennessee court. The jargon included orders to release Parsons, and a fake arrest warrant for Furnas’ local sheriff and the Tennessee judge who issued Parsons legitimate warrant.
With Parson behind bars, the two women hatched a new plot. They signed a contract with a bounty hunter offering $250,000 — and a Corvette — to break Parsons out of jail and kidnap the judge and sheriff and try them in their illegitimate Canadian court.
The bounty hunter turned out to be an FBI informant, and Patricia Parsons was arrested. She was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2017. Holland was arrested in British Columbia on outstanding warrants and an unrelated kidnapping charge.
A year after Patricia was sentenced, her husband was finally tried and sentenced on his firearms charges. On December 7, 2018, he received 84 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Damien Reshard Crawley
Damien Reshard Crawley was booked into the Lorain County Jail on Nov. 27, 2018 after a simple traffic stop when Crawley failed to use his turn signal.
When the officer approached the car, Crawley made suspicious movements as if he were trying to conceal something and announced that he was traveling, not driving, so he shouldn’t have been stopped. He also refused to give his name to the officer and locked the car doors.
Backup arrived. Crawley continued spouting sovereign citizen terminology and refused to leave his vehicle. Officers were forced to break the window and three of them worked in consort to pull Crawley, who was “staying dead weight” in the car, police reports state.
Crawley was treated for minor cuts sustained when the window was broken, and taken into custody.
Officers found a razor blade and baggies that held what looked like marijuana.
Charges against Crawley include carrying a concealed weapon, failure to comply, failure to disclose personal information, obstructing official business, resisting arrest, and other charges stemming from multiple warrants held by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and Amherst Police Department.