Self-proclaimed Leader of Sovereign Citizen Group Sentenced to Federal Prison for Promoting Tax Fraud Scheme
The Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the FBI announced today that James Timothy Turner, also known as Tim Turner, was sentenced to serve 18 years in federal prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States, attempting to pay taxes with fictitious financial instruments, attempting to obstruct and impede the IRS, failing to file a 2009 federal income tax return and falsely testifying under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding.
In March 2013, following a five-day jury trial, Turner was convicted on 10 counts in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Based on the evidence introduced at trial and in court filings, Turner, the self-proclaimed “president” of the sovereign citizen group Republic for the united States of America (RuSA), traveled the country in 2008 and 2009 conducting seminars teaching attendees how to defraud the IRS by preparing and submitting fictitious bonds to the U.S. government in payment of federal taxes, mortgages, and other debt. The evidence at trial revealed the bonds are fictitious and worthless but witnesses testified that Turner used special paper, financial terminology and elaborate borders in an effort to make them look authentic and more likely to succeed in defrauding the recipient. Turner was convicted of sending a $300 million fictitious bond in his own name and of aiding and abetting others in sending fifteen other fictitious bonds to the Treasury Department to pay taxes and other debts.
The evidence at trial also established that Turner taught people how to file retaliatory liens against government officials who interfered with the processing of fictitious bonds. Turner filed a purported $17.6 billion maritime lien in Montgomery County, Ala., Probate Court against another individual. This investigation began after Turner and three other self-proclaimed “Guardian Elders” sent demands to all 50 governors in the United States in March 2010 ordering each governor to resign within three days to be replaced by a “sovereign” leader or be “removed.” The FBI immediately began investigating Turner and IRS- Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) joined the investigation soon thereafter.
“This lengthy prison sentence shows that tax defiers like Turner who use bogus tax schemes and file retaliatory liens against government officials will be punished,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division Kathryn Keneally. “The Justice Department will continue to work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to defraud the government.”
“This sentence should send a message that if you attempt to use retaliatory tax liens and fraudulent tax schemes as weapons against the United States and its citizens you will be punished,” stated acting U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart for the Middle District of Alabama. “We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the law for financial gain. I would like to thank the law enforcement officers who worked vigilantly on this case to bring this criminal to justice.”
“Turner influenced others with his false ideology by aggressively promoting obstruction of the IRS,” stated Richard Weber, Chief, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “In truth, Turner’s own defiance of IRS and his attempts to lead others through the same labyrinth of lies and distortions led to his downfall as shown by the significant sentence he must now serve. Today’s sentence should also send a strong message to those who may follow in Turner’s footsteps and attempt to defy their tax obligations. The legality of our income tax laws has been challenged time and time again and the courts have consistently upheld them.”
“The FBI is committed to vigorously investigate individuals and groups who steal from the federal government for financial gain through schemes deigned to avoid payment on loans, taxes and other obligations owed the federal government,” stated Stephen Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Mobile Division.
In addition to prison time, Turner was ordered to pay $26,021 in restitution to the IRS and to serve a five year term of supervised release upon his release from prison.
This case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and IRS-CI, was prosecuted by Tax Division Trial Attorney Justin Gelfand and Middle District of Alabama Assistant U.S. Attorney Gray Borden.