'Sovereignty' basis for area racketeering

Group doesn't obey statutory laws

"Richard-Terence: Jenkins" appeared to be a man of means, with deeds in his name to six Augusta houses and a seventh in Snellville, Ga., all notarized and on file with the clerk of Superior Court. He also had a mailing address at a house in Hephzibah and a car tag specifying "diplomatic corps."

 

The houses -- Jenkins doesn't actually own them -- were toward the low end of a portfolio being assembled by nine "sovereign citizens" now wanted on federal racketeering charges out of DeKalb County.

While his actions seemed merely strange to Augusta Realtors, whose listings Jenkins deeded to himself for "one silver dollar," they're actually characteristic of a domestic terrorist group beginning to gain ground in Georgia.

"We don't consider them weirdos, we consider them antigovernment extremists," said Stephen Emmett, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Atlanta office.

For the most part, the so-called "sovereigns" file bogus paperwork and fake court and financial filings to commit fraud and otherwise "burden the system," Emmett said.

In May, 16-year-old Joseph Kane shot and killed two Arkansas police officers when his father was pulled over by police. The pair had been traveling the country, giving classes on a sovereign scam known as "redemption foreclosure mortgage fraud."

Jenkins, who was arrested Sunday at his grandmother's house in Augusta, filed quit-claim deeds to houses on Davis Mill Road, Walton Loop Road, Walton Farms Drive, Sanderling Road and Glenn Avenue.

Notices posted in the windows of at least two of the homes informed "state and government agents" visiting that Jenkins was not a U.S. citizen under 1868 statutes, but rather a "national Citizen" of the republic under the Constitution of 1789.

"He probably figured it's worth a try," said Berley Green, an Augusta Realtor who's listing the bank-foreclosed house.

Green said he wasn't sure how Jenkins had gotten inside, but that earlier in the year, he or someone had tried to sell and rent the house.

Members of the group wanted in DeKalb were found actually moving into higher-valued homes around Atlanta after having the locks changed and utilities switched on.

Jenkins was found on the premises of a Lithonia mansion when marshals served a dispossessory warrant there, DeKalb Assistant District Attorney John S. Melvin said.

He also witnessed a deed to a $2 million mansion under construction in Sandy Springs.

Contractors working on the Glenn Avenue house in Hephzibah kept seeing a man and a woman come onto the property, Realtor Donald Widener said.

"A day or two later, someone had posted a notice in the window saying they owned the property," he said.

Widener said he removed the notice and that Fannie Mae assured him that the agency, and not Jenkins, was the owner.

Louise Houston found it odd that a man who said his former sister-in-law lived next door was using her new house on Willis Foreman Road as a mailing address on the fake deeds.

Jenkins stopped in recently, she said.

"He asked me, what would I do with mail that did not belong to me?"

At least 100,000 Americans consider themselves "sovereign citizens" and actively practice a bizarre set of behaviors, including adding punctuation marks to their names, said lawyer Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Jenkins, for example, added the colon and hyphen to his name.

Sovereigns believe the U.S. government established by the Constitution was replaced during a secret, treasonous takeover, according to an article in the center's upcoming Intelligence Report.

Various sovereign groups, a subset of the Patriot movement, have evolved over the past 30 years, but all share a common belief that tricks and procedures exist to allow people not to follow statutory laws, Potok said.

Freed from the shell, sovereigns are thus free from taxes, laws and license requirements.

Besides a "diplomatic corps" tag instead of a license plate, a Jeep parked where Jenkins was arrested had a "declaration of nationality," claiming that "Richard-Terence: Jenkins El Bey" and his offspring were Free Moorish American Nationals, posted in the window.

A growing black nationalist religious movement called the Moorish Science Temple of America, spread widely via YouTube videos, has members pay taxes to the temple instead of the government, according to the report.