Criminal Justice

Woman gets 7 years for filing fake $100B liens against 4 judges, US attorney and others

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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.”

Related coverage: “Woman convicted of filing fake $100B liens against former US attorney and others”

ABA Journal: “‘Sovereign citizens’ plaster courts with bogus legal filings—and some turn to violence”

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