Posted: December 12, 2001
Twelve Western Michigan residents were convicted today in federal court on 67 counts of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion. The anti-government extremists, members of the "sovereign citizen" movement, had attempted to use bogus Internal Revenue Service filings to trigger IRS inquiries against 18 judges.
The defendants had created bogus "sight drafts," fictitious check-like instruments used by extremists to pay off taxes and bills, with a face value of more than $550 million. They also filed at least 113 bogus IRS Form 8300s - forms designed to alert the IRS to suspicious currency transactions - against judges and others.
According to U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara, the defendants "disrupted hundreds of victims' lives." The victims included judges, law enforcement officers, public officials and creditors. Prosecutors said that some of the defendants even continued their activities during the trial itself, sending the Make-A-Wish Foundation a bogus $250,000 pledge in the name of one of the prosecuting attorneys.
"We applaud the convictions in this important case," said Jennifer Doeren, Assistant Director of the Anti-Defamation League's Detroit office. "ADL has long been concerned about efforts by anti-government extremists to harass and intimidate law enforcement officers and public officials in Michigan and elsewhere."
Led by Joan Anderson, 50, of Evart, Michigan, members of the group were disruptive throughout the 15-day trial. In addition to Anderson, the convicted defendants included Art Modderman of Evart, Phillip Hammond of Granville, Rodger Yates of Jenison, Dewey Metcalf, Sr., and Dewey Metcalf, Jr., of Six Lakes, Frank Sagorski of Howard City, Brian Carney of Kentwood, Susan Sloboda and Robert Goodwin, Jr., of Marne, and Ruth and Jack Shriver of Fremont.
At least one of the defendants had a prior conviction on similar "paper terrorism" charges. In 1997, Rodger Yates was convicted on fraud charges for having used a bogus money order created by the Montana Freeman to pay IRS debts of around $250,000. Yates had been out of prison for only two months before being arrested again.
The defendants were practitioners of an anti-government scheme known as "redemption" or "accept for value," which has become increasingly popular among anti-government extremists since 1999. Adherents of the "redemption" tactic make uniform commercial code filings that they claim allows them to create bogus sight drafts to pay off their debts and liabilities. Creditors, public officials, or law enforcement officers who disagree are subjected to harassing IRS Form 8300 filings, among other attempts at intimidation. Redemptionists have been convicted on a variety of charges in Ohio, Oregon, Idaho, and several other states.