Sovereign Citizen Convicted of "Paper Terrorism" in Oregon

  • August 10, 2007


A U.S. District Judge in Portland, Oregon, convicted Steven Dale Kelton, 51, of Central Point, of 20 counts of filing a false tax document under penalty of perjury. Kelton employed the common sovereign citizen scheme of filing fraudulent tax documents with the IRS alleging that various lawyers, bank and utility employees, and Jackson County officials had engaged in dubious financial transactions in amounts up to $500 million.  The tactic was designed to elicit IRS audits of the targets.

Filing bogus documents with the intention of harassing government authorities, also known as "paper terrorism" is a plot often employed by anti-government sovereign citizens and tax protesters to interfere with audits and criminal investigations against them, and to clog up the courts and IRS.  There have been seven related convictions in Oregon in the past year.

Kelton, in another move common to sovereign citizens, represented himself during the brief trial prior to the August 2 conviction.  He refused to question witnesses, argue to the jury or respond to the judge's questions, adhering to the sovereign citizen credo that the U.S. judicial system does not have the authority to judge him. 

Kelton faces up to 60 years in prison and up to $5,000,000 in fines if convicted. Sentencing is scheduled for October.  Kelton is also scheduled to stand trial on unrelated conspiracy charges in October.