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Federal prosecutors bring tax charges against leader of anti-government group

By Carol Cratty, CNN
updated 8:19 PM EDT, Tue September 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The defendant heads a group that calls itself the Republic for the united States of America
  • Authorities describe it as a "soverign citizens" group
  • The group rejects the authority of the government and paying taxes
  • Turner is facing a 10-count indictment for alleged tax crimes

Washington (CNN) -- A well known leader of an anti-government "sovereign citizens" group was indicted Tuesday in Montgomery, Alabama, for tax crimes, the Justice Department announced.

A 10-count indictment charges James Timothy Turner with conspiracy to defraud the United States, attempting to pay taxes with fictitious financial instruments, attempting to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service, failure to file federal tax returns and giving false testimony in a bankruptcy proceeding.

The government says Turner, the self-proclaimed president of a sovereign-citizens group called Republic for the united States of America, was arrested Tuesday and had a brief court appearance. Turner will remain in jail pending a Monday detention hearing, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama.

According to the indictment, Turner allegedly tried to pay his 2008 taxes with a $300 million fake bond and assisted others trying to pay taxes with up to $100 billion dollars in fraudulent bonds. Prosecutors also said Turner gave seminars teaching others how to defraud the IRS and to file retaliatory liens against government officials.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said Turner's sovereign citizens group rejects the authority of the government and its ability to enforce laws and collect taxes. Potok said that in late 2010 the group sent letters to governors in all 50 states calling on them to step down.

The taxes charges brought against Turner carry a maximum of 164 years in prison as well as large financial penalties if he is convicted.

CNN was not able to identify a lawyer representing Turner.

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