Criminal Justice

Leader of sovereign citizens group gets 18-year sentence for tax crimes

An Alabama man accused of teaching seminars on how to use phony bonds to avoid paying taxes has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

James Timothy Turner, also known as Tim Turner, was convicted in March on charges that included conspiracy to defraud the United States and attempting to pay taxes with false financial instruments, according to, a Justice Department press release and an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Turner was president of the largest sovereign citizen group in the country, according to the SPLC.

Turner traveled the country in 2008 and 2009, teaching seminars on how to avoid paying taxes, mortgages and other debt by creating phony bonds, prosecutors say. He also taught others how to file retaliatory liens against government officials who interfered with the processing of the fake bonds, according to the Justice Department.

The government says the FBI began investigating Turner after he and three other “guardian elders” sent demands to the governors of every state order in March 2010 ordering them to resign so they could be replaced by a sovereign leader. Those who didn’t resign would be removed, the demands said.

Turner’s group, the Republic for the united States of America (RuSA) has been working to build a shadow government that would take over if the federal government collapses, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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