Tennessee Woman Pleads Guilty to Aiding and Abetting an Attempt to Kidnap Judge and Sheriff in One-Count Criminal Information
Memphis, TN – Patricia Parsons, 49, of Brighton, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging her with aiding and abetting solicitation to commit kidnapping. Lawrence J. Laurenzi, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the guilty plea today.
According to the facts revealed during the plea hearing and alleged in the criminal information, from February 2017 through May 2017, Parsons conspired with Suzanne Holland, a self-appointed Chief Justice of the Universal Supreme Court of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in Canada, to kidnap a Tipton County judge and a Nebraska sheriff.
On January 10, 2017, Michael Parsons (the defendant’s husband) was scheduled to appear in state court in Tipton County, Tennessee on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Mr. Parsons did not show up for court, removed his ankle monitor and fled the jurisdiction. Two days later, he was located and arrested in a small airport in Arapahoe, Nebraska after flying himself there in a plane.
On February 16, 2017, FBI New Orleans received information that Suzanne Holland, self-appointed Chief Justice of the Universal Supreme Court of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in Canada, was attempting to hire a bounty hunter to kidnap Sheriff Kurt Kapperman of Furnas County, Nebraska and Judge Joseph Walker of Tipton County, Tennessee and to break Mr. Parsons out of jail. Ms. Holland contacted an FBI Confidential Source in New Orleans, Louisiana and solicited the source to execute what were purported to be duly-issued "arrest warrants" for the sheriff and judge issued by the Tsilhqot’in Nation. Holland emailed "arrest warrants" to the source along with an "order to release Michael Parsons from jail." Further investigation revealed that the Tsilhqot’in Nation was a Sovereign Citizen group located on an Indian reservation in British Columbia, Canada.
On February 17, 2017, Ms. Holland provided a telephone number for the source to facilitate further discussions. FBI Memphis determined this number to be that of Mr. Parsons’ wife, defendant Patricia Parsons.
Based on initial telephone conversations, Ms. Holland and the source agreed to draft a contract, signed by both parties, describing duties and payments. A final negotiated price of $250,000 was agreed upon for the arrest of the sheriff and judge and the facilitating release of Mike Parsons from jail. Mike Parsons was described as an Associate Justice of the Tshilhqot’in Nation.
On February 23, 2017, the source and Ms. Holland agreed on an initial payment of $5,000 to begin arranging all travel and other details related to the operation. Holland told the source that Patricia Parsons would have the money and be available to meet in Memphis. On March 6, 2017, the source advised Holland that a business associate would meet Patricia Parsons to coordinate the payment. An amended contract was drawn up and signed by both parties. The source then contacted Patricia Parsons to discuss the transaction.
On March 3, 2017, Ms. Holland requested the source to accept a Corvette in lieu of the $5,000 payment. The Corvette was owned by the Parsons and located on Patricia Parsons’ property in Brighton, Tennessee. In telephone conversations, Patricia Parsons advised that the Corvette had some problems but was worth approximately $7,000. Three days later, during a series of phone calls, the source advised the defendant that an associate was traveling to the Parson’s property to complete the payment transaction.
Further the source explained to Parsons what the overall operation would entail, including: selling the vehicle to help fund the operation; breaking Mr. Parsons out of jail; kidnapping the Tennessee judge (who was scheduled to preside over her husband’s impending trial) and the Nebraska sheriff; using the plane to transport the abducted individuals to Holland in Canada; and using 30 operatives divided into two teams to accomplish these objectives.
During these calls, defendant Parsons advised that her phone was tapped by the FBI and agreed to call the source on another phone. The defendant called on a different line and indicated that she was ok with the source taking the vehicle and using the plane in Nebraska "as long as the FBI don’t come knockin at my door again." The source explained that the operatives would need to go to Canada because "once we kidnap a judge and a sheriff, our heads are gonna be on the choppin block… and once we do what we gotta do we can never come back." After these discussions, the defendant agreed to meet one of the operatives to complete payment transaction.
On March 6, 2017, an undercover FBI employee posing as an associate of the source exchanged phone calls with the defendant and subsequently met at her residence in Brighton, Tennessee to obtain the Corvette. Due to the fact that the Corvette was inaccessible at the resident, the defendant agreed to provide the associate a 1991 Ford Ranger truck as the down payment for the operation. Parsons could not find the title but signed a note transferring ownership of the vehicle and gave the associate keys to the truck.
Between March 11 and March 15, 2017, the associate made three separate telephone calls to Parsons in order to gain further information on Tipton County Judge Joseph Walker. The associated asked about an address and photo of the judge’s house. The defendant responded that she did not know the specific address but that the judge’s name was "Joseph Walker III" and advised that he was located in Ripley, Tennessee in Lauderdale County. She also agreed to find out more information on the judge. On another call, the defendant advised the associate about a Ripley P.O. Box for the judge and stated he presided over courts in Tipton, Lauderdale, Hardeman, Fayette and one other county. At no time did Parsons attempt to notify any authorities of the impending plot to kidnap a sheriff and judge and free Mr. Parsons’ from jail.
Parsons faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $125,000 fine and five years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for December 1, 2017, before United States District Judge Sheryl H. Lipman.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hall is prosecuting this case on the government’s behalf.