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Sovereign Citizen 'President' Convicted Of Tax Crimes

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AP Photo

The self-proclaimed president, James Timothy Turner, was convicted late Friday in federal court in Alabama of conspiracy to defraud the United States, attempting to pay taxes with fictitious financial instruments, attempting to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service, failing to file a 2009 federal income tax return, and falsely testifying under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, according to the Justice Department.

Court filings and other evidence at the trial showed how Turner went around the country in 2008 and 2009, holding seminars where he showed people how to submit fictitious bonds to the government in payment of federal taxes. Witnesses said Turner used "special paper, financial terminology, and elaborate borders" to make his bonds look real. Turner himself once sent a $300 million bond in his own name to the Treasury Department. Turner also taught people how to file retaliatory liens against government officials who got in the way of the fake bond process.

The FBI started looking into Turner in 2010, after he and three other people sent letters to all the governors of all 50 states in the actual United States, ordering each to resign within three days or be "removed."

"The jury's verdict in this case sends a message that defrauding the government and others through the use of bogus financial documents will not be tolerated," Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Tax Division Kathryn Keneally said in a statement on Monday. "Disagreement with the law is no excuse for the real harm caused by these self-interested tax defiers."

The Justice Department considers the Republic for the United States of America a sovereign citizen group. But Turner's "president" title isn't all it sounds like. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has tracked the rise of the sovereign citizens movement since the late 2000s, the movement has no central leadership or organized group that members can join.