Anti-Government Extremist Convicted on "Paper Terrorism" Charges

  • June 12, 2003

Charles K. Bailey, an anti-government extremist with links to the "sovereign citizen" movement, was sentenced on June 10, 2003 to ten years in prison following his conviction in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court on an array of charges related to a paper terrorism scam.

Bailey, 38, of Canton, Ohio, who calls himself Shareef Malik El Bey, was found guilty on 36 charges ranging from racketeering and theft to forgery and possession of criminal equipment; all part of a scheme known as "redemption," a tactic involving bogus checks that has become increasingly popular among anti-government extremists since 1999.

In one of the schemes, Bailey and an associate deposited a $100,000 sight draft, a fake check-like instrument, at Ohio Savings Bank. They withdrew $80,030 a few days later and wired it to a bank account in Estonia. According to Interpol, the money was transferred to an account in Berlin, where they were then able to withdraw money through an Internet account.

In addition to forging sight drafts, often used by extremists to pay off taxes and bills and to buy high-cost items like luxury cars, Bailey took part in filing false liens and involuntary bankruptcy claims against a judge, the police and a car dealer in Lakewood, Ohio. These "paper terrorism" tactics are the hallmark of the sovereign citizen movement.

Bailey is among 17 people who were indicted by Cuyahoga County prosecutors in August 2002 for a variety of "redemption" tactics that according to authorities inundated area businesses and county agencies with nearly $4 million in fake checks. The Cuyahoga Sheriff's Department worked with several agencies, including the FBI, the Secret Service and U.S. postal inspectors, on the two-year investigation that led to the indictments. Many have already been convicted, agreed to cooperate with authorities, or pleaded guilty to various charges, while others still await trial.

Bailey claims to be the "prime minister" of the anti-government Moorish Republic Federal Government, a "Moorish" group, whose members claim to be exempt from the law. It is also known as the Al Moroccan Empire.

The "Moorish" movement is an African-American spin-off of the sovereign citizen movement, whose members are mostly white and which was created largely by white supremacists. "Moorish" groups adopt the rhetoric and tactics of the sovereign citizen movement, adding their own Afrocentric theories and ideas.