If, like Yr Doktor Zoom, you’re a connoisseur of conspiracy loons, you are of course familiar with the weirdo “sovereign citizen” crowd, who believe that they aren’t subject to the false laws of the fake American government, that typing their names in all caps has magical properties, and that their only allegiance is to the real U.S. Constitution, which was somehow perverted by the adoption of the 14th Amendment or some such nonsense. There are many variations on the theme, but they pretty much just don’t want to pay taxes or be subject to any laws they don’t like, which is most of them.
So anyhow, here is a teevee report from Nashville’s channel 4 about a nice gentleman named Mark Manuel, of Franklin, Tennessee, who was convicted in federal court in February along with two others, in a multi-million-dollar scheme to “eliminate” people’s debts through a bunch of phony legal filings — all the debtors had to do was hand over a whole lot more money to the trio, who promised to use secret federal accounts to pay off the debts. As a result, a lot of people took out credit card advances or second mortgages to pay the bogus fees, and several victims ended up losing everything; the three ripped off at least 250 people nationwide. And of course, even though federal money is worthless, the group happily accepted it from their victims. Isn’t sovereignty a beautiful thing?
For our money (which is worthless, since it isn’t gold or silver), the highlight of the video may be when the teevee news team visits Mark Manuel’s home in Franklin, finding a sign on the door with his Official Seal — it’s got an eagle on it, so of course it’s official — on a notice advising that it’s private property, with some fun legalese arglebargle that you can easily find on the Interwebs:
Over This land flies the American Banner of Peace, and the Law thereon is the Holy Scriptures, and the Christian lex non scripta. The Owner has enacted other various ordinances, to which all who enter This land are subject.
Including a $10,000 fine, payable only “in silver coin,” for anyone who comes on the property without an official license issued by the owner. These folks love their pretend legal documents.
Also amusing is this exchange in a deposition for a 2009 case involving a Tennessee couple who Manuel and his brothers defrauded in a Ponzi scheme; Manuel refuses to acknowledge that he is “Mark Manuel,” because if you don’t say your name in a court (whose jurisdiction you deny anyway), you are magically not guilty:
Attorney: “What is your name?”
Manuel: “What is not my name?”
Attorney: “No, what is your name?”
Manuel: “What is not my name?”
(It’s a shame the transcript at Channel 4’s website gets the pronouns mixed up, as if Manuel were asking the attorney “What is not your name?”)
And then there’s the ID cards found on Manuel when he was arrested: A Tennessee driver’s license, as well as a card identifying him as a “Universal Postal Union Diplomat,” an alleged Chrerokee tribal ID, and another claiming to be a “World ID card,” which we have generously screenshotted from the TV video for your enlightenment.
Update: Thanks to Alert Commenter “Guppy” for noticing the strange choice of logo for the “Universal Postal Union” card — wouldn’t have guessed a conspiracy loon would be an admirer of the Vatican. Then again, maybe whoever made the card 1) is a huge troll; B) found the image somewhere and liked how it looked regardless; or III) is a counter-agent from the Vatican itself.
A February story on the trial includes some other choice tidbits, like the business name the three men used: “Hakanumatata For All.” Considering their habit of rounding up victims through church groups, we’d suggest that they could just as well have gone with “Hasa Diga Eebowai Holdings.”
There’s more on the scheme at the link, including details on the legal “gibberish” in sovereign citizen documents — the strategy, if you can call it that, is just to file tons of utter bullshit in hopes of slowing down any legal proceedings — and the tempting description of one of Manuel’s codefendants, Jerry Elmo Hartsoe, whose face
has a steely blue tint because he drank a mixture of colloidal silver and zinc, said James Craig, his attorney. The concoction was recommended as a cure for an illness by a chemist, he said.
“It’s permanent,” Craig said.
Sadly, in one of the great journalistic disappointments of the week, we were unable to find any photos of Mr. Hartsoe. But here’s another gentleman whose skin was similarly affected, but who we wish to emphasize is in no way connected to the sovereign citizen fraudsters; he’s more of a living color swatch:
Sadly for Mark Manuel and his Blue Man group, even though they don’t recognize federal law, federal law recognizes them, and they each face “possible sentences of 30 years’ imprisonment and fines of $250,000 per defendant.” The federal government isn’t picky, and will even accept worthless U.S. currency for the fines. Sentencing is scheduled for May of this year.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. This is all the Derp he plans to round up today, but at least he won’t demand payment in silver.