United States Attorney David B. Barlow
District of Utah
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MELODIE RYDALCH
MONDAY, AUG. 27, 2012 (801) 325-3206
TWO FACE CHARGES IN INDICTMENT FOR LIEN SCHEME AS A PART
OF CLAIM OF SOVEREIGN CITIZENSHIP
SALT LAKE CITY – Two individuals are charged in a federal indictment unsealed Monday afternoon with four counts of mail fraud in connection with what the indictment alleges was a scheme to use the mail to assert false claims of indebtedness totalling billions of dollars against state court judges and others.
Charged in the indictment are Maria Melody Fuentes Cecil, age 42, of Spanish Fork and Robert Clifton Tanner, age 44, of Mansura, Louisiana. Cecil was arrested in Spanish Fork, Utah. She was arraigned on the indictment Monday in U.S. District Court. Cecil entered a not guilty plea, and a 5 day trial is scheduled to begin on November 5, 2012 before Judge David Sam. Cecil opted to remain in state custody where there is an active warrant for her arrest. Should that matter be resolved, Cecil will be returned to federal court for further proceedings concerning detention. Tanner was arrested in Louisiana Saturday by local, state and federal officers, and appeared in federal court in Louisiana on Monday.
According to the indictment, Cecil attempted to file a “Notice of Expatriation” with the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office on March 9, 2012, in an effort to declare herself a “sovereign” citizen. In 2011 and 2012, Cecil was a party in various court proceedings in the Provo City Justice Court, Utah Fourth District Court, and Utah Fourth District Juvenile Court in Utah County.
The indictment alleges Cecil and Tanner mailed false claims of indebtedness totalling billions of dollars against judges in those Utah County courts, and others, by mailing documents and filing fictitious judgments and liens that were intended to create an appearance of indebtedness for the judges, and others. The documents asserted claims for 3.2 billion dollars against each targeted victim.
Relying on the US mail to perpetrate their scheme, Cecil and Tanner made it appear as though the victims of their conduct had incurred the multi-billion dollar debts by not responding to pseudo-legal documents mailed to them. Then, acting in concert, Cecil and Tanner filed false and fictitious lien documents with the Utah County Recorder’s Office against the state court judges and others, using the previous fraudulent mailings as justification.
The potential maximum penalty for each count of mail fraud in the indictment is up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Louisiana also is contributing to the case.