‘Sovereign Citizen’ Leader Goes on Trial for Tax Fraud
Frye testified on Monday that he met Turner in the parking lot of a Walmart in Enterprise, Ala., to pick up the bogus documents. It was there that the two affixed the documents with red thumb prints next to their signatures - a tell-tale sovereign tactic.
But shortly after Frye sent the bond to the IRS, he and his wife, Kathy, were indicted for conspiring to defraud the government. He was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by six months of house arrest. Frye said that when he approached Turner to find out what went wrong, Turner said he “was sorry to hear that, and told us to hang in there.”
Most of the charges Turner now faces stem from his early days as a sovereign citizen, just as he was getting turned on to the ideology. Sovereigns generally believe that they - not judges, juries or police - get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. In recent years, sovereigns have clogged up courts with indecipherable filings, much like what Turner was teaching, and in some cases have lashed out violently against law enforcement officials, often during traffic stops.
Turner, however, went further than most sovereigns. In audio recordings gathered by undercover IRS agents that were played in court, he bragged of being better than others in peddling financial schemes and expressed his dreams of leading a nation of “the sovereign people.” In 2010, when Turner was part of a group called the Guardians for the free Republics (GFR), he sent letters to all 50 governors demanding they step down. The following year, he formed RuSA, which grew to have a presence in nearly every state, and proclaimed himself the president of a government-in-waiting that would rule the country after the U.S. government collapsed.
Despite all his bombast, prosecutors argued that Turner was nothing more than a huckster. “It was all about the money for Mr. Turner,” Gelfand said. “All about the fraud.”