FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         TAX
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 1996                         (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888

     WASHINGTON, D.C. --  A leader of a tax protest organization
that promoted and operated a $61 million bogus money order
scheme, was sentenced to 97 months in jail and fined $10,000, the
Justice Department announced today.  
     Gerald Joe Henson, 56, was convicted in June 1996 on fraud
and conspiracy charges for promoting and selling bogus money
orders.  This scheme caused over $2 million worth of bogus money
orders to be mailed to the IRS.  
     Henson first became involved in this bogus money order
scheme while attending a seminar promoting them at the offices of
USA First in Waxahachie, Texas, where he helped videotape the
seminar and then sold the videotapes as well as informational
packages and bogus securities.  
     Henson then, under the name of United Sovereigns of America,
sponsored seminars promoting the use of bogus money orders and
other anti-tax ideas.  Evidence at trial linked Henson to the
"Montana Freemen" of Justus Township, Montana.  He also printed
seminar materials and lectured at similar seminars hosted by
Elizabeth Broderick.  The reputed leader of the "Montana
Freemen," Leroy Schweitzer, is currently under indictment for
similar activities in Montana.  On October 3, Broderick was
convicted by a jury in Los Angeles, for promoting a bogus money
order scheme.  Her sentencing is set for January 6, 1997.   
     Henson, who was sentenced today by federal judge James R.
Nowlin in Austin, and several co-conspirators sold promotional
packages containing six blank bogus money orders for
approximately $300.  Purchasers filled out the bogus money orders
for any amount they chose and then used them to pay the IRS, as
well as credit card companies, mortgage lenders, and others.  The
money orders were to be redeemable by or through "W.D. McCall &
Associates," "U.S.A. First," and "L.A. Pethahiah," which are
private, non-government entities that were neither licensed nor
legally authorized to issue or sell securities or payment
instruments, such as money orders.
     In sentencing Henson, Judge Nowlin stated that Henson's
conduct constituted "a very serious threat to the foundation of
our country."
     Assistant Attorney General Loretta C. Argrett, head of the
Justice Department's Tax Division, hailed the long sentence as "a
just punishment for the type of illegal tax protest activity
exhibited in this case--conduct which endangers our entire system
of taxation and which the Department of Justice is committed to
     "It is important to understand that the American people
often are victims of fraudulent schemes of this nature," U.S.
Attorney James William Blagg said.  "This sentence sends a clear
message that attempts to obstruct and impede the IRS and to
defraud the American public are taken seriously and will be
prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
     Henson, a printer for 37 years, owned a commercial printing
company in Oklahoma that he operated under the names Spirit
Publications and Lighthouse Color Press.  In addition to printing
two types of the bogus money orders used in this scheme--the
"certified money orders" and "certified bankers cheques"--Henson
also wrote, compiled, printed and sold numerous tax protest
publications denouncing the authority of the IRS and the U.S.
government in general.  
     Henson considers himself a "sovereign citizen of the
Republic of Oklahoma," and has served as a jury foreman and
marshal of the common law court out of Oklahoma, even wearing a
marshal's badge.  Prior to his trial, he attempted to file
several "common law" documents accusing the investigators,
prosecutors and the presiding judge of tyranny and treason.  
     Six co-conspirators were indicted along with Henson. 
Sentencing is pending for Wayne Victor Slater, who entered a
guilty plea to one count of mail fraud on June 3, 1996.  Jerry
Lynn Wilkins, Johnny Johnston, and Earl Oscar Forester, are
currently on pre-trial appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of
Appeals.  Charges against Billy Mack O'Neill were dismissed
because he previously had been convicted and sentenced in two
other cases, and had cooperated with the government in this
prosecution.  Leo Alexander Hoad, Jr. is a fugitive.
     The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald
Carruth of the Western District of Texas and Jen E. Ihlo, Trial
Attorney in the Department's Tax Division.  The IRS Internal
Security Division and U.S. Postal Inspectors were instrumental in
the success of the two-year investigation.
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