FBI REPORT 9/22/2011......Domestic terrorism—Americans attacking Americans because of U.S.-based extremist ideologies—comes in many forms in our post 9/11 world. To help educate the public, we’ve previously outlined two separate domestic terror threats—eco-terrorists/animal rights extremists and lone offenders.
Today, we look at a third threat—the “sovereign citizen” extremist movement.
Sovereign citizens are anti-government extremists who believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement
This causes all kinds of problems—and crimes. For example, many sovereign citizens don’t pay their taxes. They hold illegal courts that issue warrants for judges and police officers. They clog up the court system with frivolous lawsuits and liens against public officials to harass them. And they use fake money orders, personal checks, and the like at government agencies, banks, and businesses.
That’s just the beginning. Not every action taken in the name of the sovereign citizen ideology is a crime, but the list of illegal actions committed by these groups, cells, and individuals is extensive (and puts them squarely on our radar). In addition to the above, sovereign citizens:
■ Commit murder and physical assault;
■ Threaten judges, law enforcement professionals, and government personnel
■ Impersonate police officers and diplomats;
■ Use fake currency, passports, license plates, and driver’s licenses; and
■ Engineer various white-collar scams, including mortgage fraud and so-called “redemption” schemes.
Sovereign citizens are often confused with extremists from the militia movement. But while sovereign citizens sometimes use or buy illegal weapons, guns are secondary to their anti-government, anti-tax beliefs. On the other hand, guns and paramilitary training are paramount to militia groups. During the past year, we’ve had a number of investigative successes involving sovereign citizens. A few recent cases.
■ In Sacramento, two sovereign citizens were convicted of running a fraudulent insurance scheme. Operating outside state insurance regulatory guidelines, the men set up their own company and sold “lifetime memberships” to customers, promising to pay any accident claims against their “members.” The company collected millions of dollars, but paid out very few claims. More
■ In Kansas City, three sovereign citizens were convicted of taking part in a conspiracy using phony diplomatic credentials. They charged customers between $450 and $2,000 for a diplomatic identification card, which would bestow upon the holder “sovereign” status—meaning they would enjoy diplomatic immunity from paying taxes and from being stopped or arrested by law enforcement. More
■ In Las Vegas, four men affiliated with the sovereign citizen movement were arrested by the Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force on federal money laundering, tax evasion, and weapons charges. The investigation involved an undercover operation, with two of the suspects allegedly laundering more than a million dollars from what they believed was a bank fraud scheme.
SARASOTA FL; Link to sovereign citizen movement costly for Sarasota police officer. SARASOTA — Last spring a respected detective for this city's police department went to the local courthouse and did something stupid. At the time, Tom Laughlin, his photo above, a twice-married 41-year-old father of four, was worried about the unstable economy. He found unsettling politicians' talk about cutting the pensions of public employees, and he didn't like President Barack Obama's health care plan. He had some vague notion of wanting to get back to this country's "roots."
Following the advice of his older brother, he filed a set of strange documents, declaring himself "a flesh and blood, living, breathing, biological man," and an "American National Sovereign." The documents seemed to say he was no longer a citizen and didn't have to follow any laws. "I, one Thomas Michael Laughlin Senior, Free man ... "
He was a government employee proclaiming an antigovernment ideology. He was an enforcer of laws who had affiliated with people who break them. He was trained to spot bunk but in this instance had not. He was fired, and this month, his appeal failed. The unraveling was complete. Laughlin in 1998 got suspended for five days for hitting in the head a drunk, handcuffed inmate who spit on him. He got suspended three years later for two days for fighting with a fellow officer.
His bosses called him in for a "counseling session." He told them that he filed the original documents "at the urging of his brother" and that he was "in the process of terminating his application." The department opened an investigation in internal affairs.
Laughlin's colleagues had a lot to say about all this. His views, they told the IA investigators, were "wacky," "very asinine" and "absolutely ridiculous." "I think our concern," Detective Patrick Robinson said, "was whether or not, you know, Tom was, I guess, stupid enough to post this thing." "How," Detective Charles Riffe asked, "can you be affiliated with this organization but yet be a police officer?"
Bill Warner Sarasota Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM at www.wbipi.com