A raid in Las Vegas by federal law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of four anti-government extremists on March 5, 2009, on charges ranging from illegal weapons to money laundering.
The Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) arrested Samuel Davis, of Idaho, and Shawn Talbot Rice, of Arizona, on conspiracy and multiple money laundering charges. Both men have been prominent leaders in the sovereign citizen movement for many years, holding seminars around the country to teach their anti-government conspiracy theories and tactics to others.
The JTTF also arrested Harold Call and Jan Lindsey, both of Las Vegas. Lindsey, an associate of incarcerated tax protest guru Irwin Schiff, is also a retired FBI agent. He has been involved with several groups, including the Nevada Lawmen Group for Public Awareness. Lindsay was arrested on tax charges; authorities have said he has not paid income taxes in a decade.
Call's arrest was the most sensational, as authorities searching his residence discovered a large cache of weapons and ammo that allegedly included machine guns, two grenades, and 27 other firearms. Call also had allegedly built a bunker behind a hidden door in a closet. He was charged with possession of an unregistered weapon.
According to authorities, the case began after the defendants made threats towards law enforcement officers and IRS agents. While the investigation was proceeding, Davis and Rice allegedly laundered over half a million dollars for undercover law enforcement agents.
Among the defendants, Davis is probably the most prominent. Since 1999, he has been one the leading proponents of "Redemption," an elaborate set of pseudo-legal theories and tactics developed by the sovereign citizen movement that rationalizes a variety of criminal acts, from passing fictitious financial instruments such as bogus sight drafts to using legal filings to retaliate against public officials and others.
Brought into court following his arrest, Davis displayed his Redemptionist leanings by telling the judge that he "accept[ed] the charges for value," which Redemptionists believe can convert something such as an indictment into a commercial transaction and make it "disappear." Davis, Rice, and Lindsey all used sovereign citizen arguments and language in court.
Rice, too, has been involved with several different sovereign citizen groups, including the Little Shell Pembina Band of North America, a sovereign citizen group that poses as a fictitious Native American tribe.
Although authorities have said that none of the defendants have prior criminal histories, Davis and Rice have had close scrapes. In 1999, Davis allegedly used bogus Redemptionist sight drafts to purchase two pickup trucks in Boise. He was arrested, but released because prosecutors allegedly could not identify any Idaho laws that had clearly been broken (although Redemptionists have been prosecuted in many other states for the same tactic).
At the same time, Shawn Talbot Rice was involved with a group of anti-government extremists running a $74 million pyramid scheme in Washington and Arizona. The scheme, utilizing companies called Vista International, Oakleaf International and Rosewood International, was shut down in 2000 by the federal government. Court documents indicated that Rice was one of a number of people involved with the scheme who were under investigation by the FBI. However, although other people involved with Rosewood et al were successfully prosecuted, Rice was not charged.
The defendants all pleaded not guilty and were released on bail pending trial. The investigation, authorities say, is continuing.