GA Cops Pinch 'Sovereign Citizen' In 'Paper Terrorism' Case; Suspect Allegedly Targeted Government Officials w/ 'Maritime Liens' Filed Against Homes
- A north Georgia man is under arrest, accused of threatening several public officials through what law enforcement officers call "paper terrorism." Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Robert Eugene Stephens filed fraudulent liens against his victims. "If you have an issue with wanting a new credit card, something as simple as that or a loan, or you want to sell your property your house, then you're gonna have a problem," GBI spokesman John Bankhead said.
- According to arrest warrants, Stephens went to the Fannin County Courthouse in Blue Ridge in September and filed the fraudulent documents against the personal properties of Georgia's Speaker of the House, the Fannin County Clerk of Court, a Superior Court Judge and her secretary, the Fannin County Tax Commissioner and two others. "It can be a nightmare to straighten out and so when it came to our attention our agents went out and obtained the arrest warrants," Bankhead added.
- Agents arrested Stephens at his home in Mineral Bluff, seizing additional documents and his computer. He's facing a total of 12 counts, including the intimidation and obstruction of court officers.
- "In this case it was pretty clear that this was a violation of the law what he did," said Bankhead. "When they interviewed him he was pretty wrapped up in this 'sovereign citizen' issue, and you couldn't convince him otherwise."
- Stephens also filed court paperwork calling himself a "sovereign citizen." The group typically espouses anti-government philosophies and files documents that can be time consuming and frustrating to combat.
- Bankhead said Stephens referred to his paperwork as "maritime liens." "What they do they come up with their own version, based on this maritime lien, which is an actual Coast Guard lien for ships. They feel a person is 90 percent water, so that's some relationship to a vessel. So they feel they can use this maritime lien to file liens against public officials," Bankhead said.
- Agents said it may sound ridiculous, but the liens and other bogus paperwork filed by "sovereign citizens" can cause real problems. They're usually designed to bog down court systems and frustrate the law enforcement and public officials they target.
For more, see Police arrest, accuse man of "paper terrorism"