Authorities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, arrested four men for conspiring to threaten and intimidate a federal judge.
The four men – Robert Beale, 65, of North Oaks, Frederick Bond, 62, of Champlin, John Pelton, 67, a retired St. Paul police officer from Stillwater, and Norman Pool, 43, of Blaine – were each indicted on July 14, 2008, on one count of conspiracy to impede an officer and one count of obstruction of justice.
According to the indictment, the men are members of an anti-government sovereign citizen group who operate their own "common law court," which they claim falls under the jurisdiction of "Almighty Yahweh." Such vigilante courts were a common sovereign citizen tactic in the 1990s, but had become unpopular by the end of the decade.
Beale, a tax protester and millionaire, is the former CEO of Comtrol Corporation, a Maple Grove computer parts company now under new ownership.
The four allegedly planned to show up at the court in which Beale was to be tried on federal charges of tax evasion and conspiracy, and "arrest" the presiding U.S. district judge if she did not dismiss the charges against him.
Beale and his supporters allegedly discussed their disruption plans for months leading up to Beale's April 2008 court date. Beale was recorded during one jailhouse phone call allegedly stating, "I want her to be intimidated," referring to the plan against the judge. According to authorities, he was also recorded telling his common-law wife that God "wants me to destroy the judge. That judge is evil. He wants me to get rid of her."
The group issued makeshift warrants for the arrest not only of the judge, but also for other Sherburne County sheriff's office and jail officials. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the group also employed the popular sovereign citizen tactic of filing bogus liens against some officials to overwhelm the courts with frivolous paperwork and legally encumber the officials behind the prosecution. Furthermore, the group reportedly also served a Hennepin County sheriff's office sergeant with a subpoena for the judge to appear before their common law court a few days prior to Beale's trial date.
Despite their efforts, the trial went forward as scheduled, with the targeted judge presiding, and on April 30, 2008, Beale was convicted on all seven of the federal charges he faced for tax evasion, conspiracy, and failure to appear in court.
Beale's involvement with the tax protest movement dates back many years. In 2003, state tax collectors seized his North Oaks, Minnesota, home and two vehicles as a result of his reported failure to pay capital gains tax on the sale of his interest in a television station. In 2006, Beale was charged with five counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government for allegedly failing to pay personal income tax on more than $5.6 million. Beale failed to appear in court for his trial on those charges, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was finally caught in Florida in November 2007, after evading authorities for 14 months by reportedly using the alias "Bob Johnson." According to the IRS, Beale owed more than $1.5 million in back taxes for his time on the run, plus interest and penalties.
If convicted, the defendants face up to six years in prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years for the obstruction charge.