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Press Release

Sovereign Citizen's Failure to Surrender, Courtroom Antics Lead to Increased Prison Sentence

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois


The sovereign citizen playbook has backfired once again. Evelyn Johnson, 57, from East St. Louis, Illinois, operated an area tax preparation service that guaranteed a refund. In January 2018, she was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on 29 counts of aiding in the preparation of false federal income tax returns. In February, she failed to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service to begin serving her prison sentence. She was then charged with a new crime for failing to surrender for service of a sentence while on release.

In her defense, Johnson claimed she was not a U.S. citizen subject to the laws of the United States, that she was not the defendant, and that she was not "Evelyn Johnson." She also contested the jurisdiction of the United States District Court.

Johnson took her case to trial, and the jury found her guilty of failing to surrender. Earlier today, she was sentenced on that conviction to an additional 30-month term of imprisonment, which must run consecutively to her original 18-month sentence. At the sentencing hearing, the district court found that Johnson had engaged in repeated acts of obstructive, contumacious conduct and had committed perjury when she testified at trial, both of which were considered aggravating factors.

The investigation was conducted by IRS Criminal Investigations, United States Probation, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman R. Smith.

Updated March 20, 2019