The article below appeared on the ABA Journal’s website in a story posted October 14, 2014 (link below). In our HOA practice, we have crossed paths with a number of people associated with various “sovereign citizen” movements over the years. Some claim to be members or leaders of the “Moorish Holy Temple of Science”, which is a real organization but does not recognize, promote or condone the tactics by these supposed sovereign citizens using the Temple’s name. Their tactics include filing of fraudulent liens, frivolous lawsuits and appeals full of gibberish and references to irrelevant federal laws; recording fraudulent deeds to vacant homes and then moving into the homes; attempting to pay valid debts with fraudulent “drafts” drawn on the account of the US Treasury; and claiming to be exempt from federal, state and local laws and taxes. Their tactics consume an enormous amount of judicial resources, and until recently the courts had few tools to deal effectively with them. North Carolina passed a law recently that makes it a felony to file fraudulent liens, and gives the Clerk of Court and the Register of Deeds discretion in accepting or rejecting these obviously fraudulent forms for filing or recording. The story below shows the extent to which the courts have become frustrated with these people and their tactics, and this defendant will pay a heavy price for her actions.
Five years ago, Cherron Phillips was a successful career woman with two children, friends and relatives with impressive records of achievement and no criminal record.
On Tuesday, the 44-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison by a federal judge in Chicago for filing bogus $100 billion maritime liens against former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, former chief U.S. District Court Judge James Holderman, three other judges and five more law enforcement officials.
A downward family spiral began with the death of an older brother in 2003 from natural causes and a federal drug case filed against a younger brother in 2006, followed by tax evasion charges against her parents, according to the Chicago Tribune (sub. req.) and the Chicago Sun-Times (sub. req.). All three relatives were eventually sentenced to federal prison terms.
At some point, Phillips, who is now known as River Tali Bey, began to use tactics associated with the sovereign citizen movement and file meritless motions in her brother’s case. After she was barred in 2011 from the federal courthouse, she began retaliating by filing the fake liens against those in charge, the articles explain.
At sentencing, her lawyer argued for probation. And at trial in June, attorney Lauren Solomon called the case against her client absurd, akin to someone “trying to pass Monopoly money and being charged with counterfeiting,” the Sun-Times reports.
But U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan saw the matter differently, saying that Phillips had tried to create havoc in the court system. Earlier in the case, he called her a “paper terrorist.”