Davidson jury finds ‘sovereign citizens’ guilty

Seven faced 102 counts of fraud and 102 counts of forgery

It took a Davidson County (Nashville) jury a little more than two hours to find five Anderson County “sovereign citizens” guilty of 102 counts of fraud and 102 counts of forgery over the value of $250,000 last week.

Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate charges of filing liens without legal basis and fraud in February, 2017.

Clark was a victim of sovereign citizens’ claims and recused himself, asking Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk to handle the proceedings.

Clark said Davidson County was the logical choice because the UCC Liens were filed electronically with the State of Tennessee in Nashville.

A UCC lien, or UCC filing, is a notice that a lender has a security interest in one or more of your assets. The term comes from a collection of established rules that govern how commercial transactions work in the United States, called the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). UCC liens can be filed against businesses or individuals.

Clark said, “Sovereign citizens are associated with a philosophy that they do not have to abide by our laws because they have declared their personal independence from government and our country.

“They are often associated with not paying taxes, refusing to register their vehicles or obtain drivers’ licenses, and refusing to recognize government authority, including law enforcement, “ he continued.

“When challenged they frequently retaliate personally against government employees by filing baseless liens or claims.”

Clark said that after that tactic surfaced in Anderson County and liens were filed against local judges, police officers, police chiefs, court clerks, mayors and prosecutors, “It was time to take action.”

Before the trial began one defendant died and a few entered guilty pleas.

Those defendants were Austin Gary Cooper, Lee Harold Cromwell, Christopher Alan Hauser, Ronald James Lyons, and James Michael Usinger.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 27. Each defendant faces a minimum of 15 years in prison — maximum sentences range from 378 to 810 years.

The prosecution was bases on defendants filing fraudulent UCC Liens, primarily against local and state officials in East Tennessee.

“I, and public officials in East Tennessee, am grateful for the work of District Attorney General Glenn Funk of Davidson County and his staff for the heavy lifting they took on with this case.

“While case was large and complex we hope that this result will serve as a deterrent to other sovereign citizen attempts to intimidate or retaliate against public servants in Tennessee.”

Clark noted that sovereign citizens have “done this for years” and have sometimes “gotten away with it.”