A federal judge sentenced a Pinson man and member of an anti-government Sovereign Citizens group to prison for two years Monday for mailing a fictitious financial instrument to attempt to pay off his home mortgage.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation classifies “sovereign citizens” among domestic terror threats as anti-government extremists.
U.S. District Judge Inge P. Johnson sentenced Donald Joe Barber, 64, to serve two years in federal prison for mailing a fictitious “bonded promissory note” to his mortgage company on March 10, 2008. Barber presented the fraudulent $10 million note as if it were a valid financial instrument drawn on a secret U.S. government account, according to the announcement from U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.
“Members of the Sovereign Citizen movement embrace an unfounded, mythological history of the United States to claim that they live outside the authority of government and its laws,” Vance said. “Standing on that twisted premise, they break the law using fraudulent financial instruments and false court claims to advance an agenda of domestic terrorism.”
A federal jury convicted Barber on the fraud charge in April. During Monday’s hearing, Barber began reading a letter that his attorney had to complete for him when he was unable to continue, in which Barber pledged to the court that he would stop promoting the beliefs of the Sovereign Citizen movement.
“Mr. Barber attempted to use a redemption scheme to avoid paying just debts, and today he pays for those crimes,” Vance said. “All citizens should be wary of individuals or groups, such as ‘sovereign citizens,’ that claim they can inform you on secret bank accounts, and should report that activity to the FBI.”
Judge Johnson ordered Barber to serve his two-year federal prison sentence after completing sentences he has in state court. Barber will remain on supervised release for two years following completion of his federal prison sentence.
The FBI describes members of the sovereign citizen movement in the U.S. as those who openly reject their citizenship status and claim to exist beyond the realm of government authority. Affiliates may use their self-appointed status to justify threats, violence or crime, including theft and fraud.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. led the investigation, which was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Michael W. Whisonant Sr.
© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.