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Florida Sovereign Citizen Convicted of Immigration Crimes

A Tamarac man has been convicted in federal court on numerous charges related to selling fraudulent documents to immigrants.

On September 22, 2009, a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale convicted Audie Watson, 75, of conspiracy, mail fraud, encouraging aliens to reside in the United States and money laundering.

Watson, along with three employees at his company Universal Service Dedicated to God, Inc., sold undocumented immigrants bogus citizenship into the Little Shell Pembina Band of North America, a fictitious Native American tribe which is actually an anti-government sovereign citizen group that has engaged in a wide variety of frauds and scams over the past half-decade.

The victims were fraudulently told that the documents they purchased would allow them to legally reside, and obtain work, in the United States by providing the (bogus) Native American lineage to immigration authorities.

According to authorities, Watson sold these memberships to undocumented immigrants for $1,500 each, or $2,000 per couple.

Watson's sentencing is scheduled for December 4. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the mail fraud counts, ten years each on the money laundering and encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the U.S. charges, five years for the conspiracy count, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Watson's employees and co-defendants in the case, Nancy Vertus, 40, Anibal Reyes, 38, and his wife Laura Reyes, 38, have all pleaded guilty.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) Office of Investigations.

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