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Missouri 'sovereign citizen' sentenced to 7 years for fraud

For years now, politicians and mainstream media sources have pointed to various causes of state and federal budget woes. In the latter case, Social Security programs have been labeled as inefficient and fraud-ridden. Regardless of whether or not that is an accurate picture of why times are lean, federal authorities have stepped up efforts to prosecute Social Security fraud.

Even though Social Security fraud is a non-violent crime, being convicted on such a charge can carry severe penalties, including years in federal prison. Back in February, a Missouri man was convicted on charges related to what prosecutors said was a scheme to defraud the Department of the Treasury and the Social Security Administration. He was sentenced recently in federal court.

A jury found the Independence man guilty of four crimes: mail fraud, transmitting a false negotiable instrument with intent to defraud the government, Social Security disability fraud and theft of government money. Prosecutors accused him of fraudulently receiving disability payments over about a 15-year period starting in 1994. He apparently operated a mortgage business during that time.

He intentionally hid the income he received from brokering mortgages, according to prosecutors, and was accused of fraudulently receiving nearly $213,000 from the government.

In all, his sentence requires him to pay restitution amounting to $212,987 and spend seven years in prison.

The man's case is especially interesting because his political ideology seems to have played a role in his decisions. The indictment against him claims that he subscribes to the theories of the so-called "sovereign citizen" movement, whose loosely connected members regard almost every form of government as illegitimate.

The movement points to the U.S. government's 1933 abandonment of the gold standard as grounds for "sovereign citizens" to circumvent federal and state laws.

Needless to say, prosecutors are not likely to buy into such a claim, and any Missouri resident accused of fraud will need a carefully prepared defense to protect against serious penalties.

Source: examiner.net, "Independence man gets seven-year sentence in Social Security fraud," Karl Kinke, July 20, 2013

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