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Brooklyn Housing Court judge weighs rent non-payment case and labels its underlying birth certificate redemption theory as 'clearly nonsense'
With a not very subtle warning, a Brooklyn, N.Y., Housing Court judge has ordered a "sovereign citizen" to pay his debts with real money, and suggested that retaliatory shenanigans against the court will spark a sharp reaction from the bench.
Judge Marc Finkelstein, in a decision last week, traced the origin and tactics of an apparently growing group of gadflies who view themselves as beyond the realm of government, attempt to settle their debts with fictitious and worthless money orders, and sometimes harass unsympathetic judges by "filing retaliatory fraudulent and bogus property liens and tax forms that are designed to ruin the officials' credit rating and cause them to be audited by the IRS."
Finkelstein said in a footnote that "at least one Housing Court Judge has experienced such a bogus property lien," but did not name the judge and declined to identify the judge in an interview. He noted that some "sovereign citizens" have been held in contempt and convicted of obstruction of justice.
Finkelstein's decision in 2720 Realty v. Jason Robert Williams, L&T 077392/12, spotlights what is seemingly an increasing concern of the judiciary over the sovereign citizen movements.
The self-proclaimed sovereigns consider themselves bound only by common law, not statutes, and do not recognize U.S. currency as legitimate because it is not backed by gold or silver.
Some of the adherents have proven violent while others, according to a 2010 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are "just starting out by testing sovereign techniques for resisting everything from speeding tickets to drug charges." The report estimates that there are about 100,000 hard-core members of the "bizarre subculture" and another 200,000 on the fringes.
2720 Realty v. Jason Robert Williams is a nonpayment-of-rent case in which a default judgment was entered against the tenant for $7,655. Williams, who is apparently represented by a brother who goes by the name of "Julian Kevin: Williams," sought to vacate the default judgment on the grounds that the creditor refused to honor and credit a "lawful Bill of Exchange," which amounted to a realistic-looking but worthless money order.
Records show that when 2720 Realty deposited the bogus instrument in its account at HSBC, it was returned uncashed and stamped "fraud."
Finkelstein, drawing from a number of sources and other decisions, explained that the sovereigns adhere to what they call a "redemption theory," based on the premise that when the federal government abandoned the gold standard in 1933 it secretly pledged the physical bodies of its citizens as collateral to borrow money.
The theory holds that the government created a fictitious or "straw man" entity for each citizen and set up secret trust accounts through birth certificates and Social Security cards.
"By filing certain, complex, legal-sounding documents, followers of this theory believe they can 'redeem' their birth certificates — i.e., tap into their secret Treasury account for their own purposes," Finkelstein said. "Under this theory, they can create money orders and sign drafts drawn on their Treasury Direct Accounts to pay for goods and services."
Finkelstein quoted from decisions characterizing the redemption theory as "implausible," "clearly nonsense," "convoluted," "peculiar," "without merit," "equal parts revisionist legal history and conspiracy theory" and "nonsensical."
The judge said he could find no case where "adherents of the sovereign citizen ideology have [ever] prevailed in their attempt to satisfy legitimate debts" with their fictitious money orders, and said Julian Kevin: Williams "will not prevail in this matter."
Jacob Gelfand, an attorney in Brooklyn who represents 2720 Realty, said the decision serves to alert the judiciary and legal community to the sovereign citizen movement and philosophy. There have been numerous cases in the past few months in which the sovereign citizen theory has been advanced in housing and other courts, according to a court official who declined to be identified out of concern for retaliation.
"It is obvious the judge wrote the decision because he wants everyone to be aware of this," Gelfand said. "He has researched the issue and was in a position to write something definite and clear so in the future others can draw on his knowledge. He could have just said 'motion denied' but he obviously wanted to write something that would be helpful."
The Constitution in Article I Section 10 says that "No State shall...make anything but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;"
Brother Magnus, I have been buying Canadian gold and silver Maples for several years. I really believe the USD is going to tank in the very near future. I also have a tactical 12GA shotgun with a few hundred rounds to dissuade foragers and looters from entering our abode.
Jurors decide fate of DeKalb 'sovereign citizens'
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. —
A DeKalb County jury is deciding the fate of three men indicted for racketeering, after a Channel 2 Action News investigation. Channel 2 first exposed a group of so-called "sovereign citizens" in 2010, for signing fake deeds to themselves and then moving into foreclosed homes.
"If I deprive anybody of their property or life, liberty ... I have a right to go to jail. Send me on my way," Eliyshuwa Yisrael testified Wednesday.
Yisrael is acting as his own attorney in the case, which initially included 11 other defendants. Several have already pleaded guilty and were called as witnesses.
Jermaine Gibson and Richard Jenkins are also on trial. Prosecutors allege the three remaining defendants were the ringleaders of the scheme.
Another defendant, Joseph Dion Lawler, has not been seen since the group was indicted. Prosecutors have a signed warrant for his arrest.
From the stand, Yisrael didn't deny taking the properties, including a $13 million shopping center in Buckhead, but said he didn't harm anyone in the process.
"I haven't had anyone come and testify that I have taken their property, not one human being," said Yisrael, "The indictment says there are victims, where are these victims?"
As a sovereign citizen, he tried to convince the jury the banks, which were the documented owners of the properties, should not have been allowed to own them in the first place.
"Only people can enter into a contract, not corporations, because a corporation cannot sign or give verbal instructions," Yisrael told the jury.
Prosecutors argued the group targeted bank-owned homes because they were vacant and the men could move right in. A Channel 2 Action News investigation in 2010 tied the men to 18 different properties across eight Georgia counties.
"He told me he owned the property and he was going to take possession and he told me in the same conversation that somehow he was going to make sure I lost my real estate license," testified Realtor Lynn Erdely.
"Mr. Jenkins called me and said he had seen my notes at the house and he was going to have me arrested for trespassing on his property," said Realtor Janice Morris, of Waynesboro.
Jenkins also represented himself and questioned co-defendants who had already pleaded guilty. Kenith Rey told the jury he paid Jenkins and Yisrael to help him take over a $3 million home in Sandy Springs.
"Yisrael was a friend of mine and we traded money, and you got money from me, so don't play games," Rey answered Jenkins on cross examination.
Yisrael told Rey, "I never received any money from you."
"You have received money from me, that's a lie," Rey replied.
Jermaine Gibson elected not to testify. His defense attorney, Adeline Alexander, told jurors racketeering charges were designed for mafia-style cases, and were too serious for this case.
"This case breaks my heart a little bit. These aren't the gentlemen, this isn't the crime, this isn't the offense that RICO was designed to punish," said Alexander.
The jury will resume deliberations Thursday morning.
http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/jurors-decide-fate-dekalb-sove... (courtroom video included)
I withdrew my Thursday and Friday comments to my DeKalb 'sovereign citizens' update as I stated in an attempt to refocuss on the subject matter.
Hope it helps.
3 ‘Sovereign Citizens’ acquitted in DeKalb
American concept of justice and "Juries of our peers" shines through the fog of disent as it often will.
A DeKalb County jury on Thursday acquitted three so-called “sovereign citizens” who were charged with racketeering for moving into and living in foreclosed homes.
Channel 2 Action News reported that Eliyshuwa Yisrael, Jermaine Gibson and Richard Jenkins were acquitted of all charges. They were accused of racketeering.
The defendants did not deny their actions, arguing that no crime was committed.
The three defendants acqluitted Thursday wewre among 12 people indicted by a DeKalb grand jury in connection with the thefts of 18 properties in eight counties. Several have already pleaded guilty.
JUSTICE And Liberty for ALL
San Mateo County Caifornia- Peninsula explosives suspect has extremist ties, expert says
There are a number of reasons the cache of 145 pounds of explosives discovered in a Brisbane home in early October were troubling -- one of them is the background of the man police say put them there.
William Harrell, 46, has links to extreme, anti-government ideas and movements, including the infamous sovereign citizens whose adherents have killed six law enforcement officers since 2000, according to an expert on the group and Harrell's ex-girlfriend. Police, though, have declined to directly associate him with any extremist groups.
Harrell, who is due back in San Mateo County Superior Court on Nov. 8, has pleaded not guilty to possessing a stash of commercial explosives powerful enough to flatten the house they were in.
When reached by phone, Harrell's father, Walter Bruce Harrell, of Montara, said his son is not part of the group. He added the younger Harrell is guilty of nothing worse than listening to a radio program host who critics call a right-wing conspiracy theorist.
But a national expert on sovereign citizens said paperwork William Harrell lodged in 2010 is evidence he is a follower of the ideology, which declares federal, state and local governments operate illegally.
According to records, Harrell made a Uniform Commercial Code filing in Kentucky that lists him as a debtor to himself. J.J. MacNab said sovereigns make these obscure filings because they believe it allows them to lay claim to a secret government bank account that belongs to them.
MacNab said it's hokum, but added that is no indication sovereigns are dummies or wackos. She has been studying them since the 1990s and wrote a publication on sovereigns for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremists.
"Something has happened in their lives that turned off a common sense switch," said MacNab. "They are not stupid or pathetic, naïve or poor."
The FBI considers sovereigns a domestic terrorist movement because of their willingness to engage in violence. An early follower of the ideology was Terry Nichols, a convicted accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.
MacNab estimated in 2010 there were at least 100,000 sovereigns across the country. The FBI says the decades-old movement is a loose network of individuals with no established leadership.
Sovereigns manifest their beliefs in a variety of ways, including making their own license plates, driver's licenses, filing frivolous lawsuits or refusing to pay taxes. When confronted on their law-breaking, some sovereigns have turned violent.
But local law enforcement authorities have said they don't have any evidence thus far that connects Harrell to the movement.
"We are aware he has filed documents with connections to this ideology," Brisbane police Cmdr. Robert Meisner said. "But that is not evidence he is part of a particular group."
Harrell's ex-girlfriend, who tipped authorities to the closet containing the explosives after an Oct. 1 fight, said he had at least begun paperwork to become a sovereign. She passed her knowledge to police the night of the terrifying discovery in the home she also shared with her two children. The ex-girlfriend, who recently obtained a restraining order against Harrell, said she had no idea the explosives were there, let alone their source or intended purpose.
Harrell's father says the worst his son has done is listen to "The Alex Jones Show" on radio. The Anti-Defamation League has called the program an anti-government outlet for conspiracy theories. The league says Jones argued the 9/11 attacks were an inside job and President Barack Obama is a "Trojan Horse" manufactured "to pacify the people."
"My son listens to him," said the elder Harrell. "That is as much as there is to those allegations. Most of what is being written is false."
Harrell added his son had the explosives for a legitimate reason but said he could not elaborate because of the ongoing criminal case.
Attempts to reach William Harrell were unsuccessful. He's out of jail on a $500,000 bail bond his mother told authorities was secured with $50,000 in proceeds from the sale of a gold bar, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
The ex-girlfriend said that not long after Harrell's arrest, his father asked her about the location of hundreds of thousands of dollars in gold. She said she knew nothing about it.