Tim Turner, former director of Franklin County Emergency Management, was indicted last month by a federal grand jury in Montgomery, Ala., for a series of tax crimes stemming from his proclaiming himself “President” of a sovereign citizen group.
The jury in the Middle District of Alabama on Sept. 18 charged James Timothy Turner, 56, of Ozark, Ala., with conspiracy to defraud the United States, attempting to pay taxes with fictitious financial instruments, attempting to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), failing to file a 2009 federal income tax return, and falsely testifying under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding, announced the Justice Department, the IRS, and the FBI in a joint news release.
According to the indictment, Turner, the self-proclaimed “President” of the sovereign citizen group “Republic for the united States of America,” (RuSA) conducted seminars at which he taught attendees how to file retaliatory liens against government officials and to defraud the IRS by preparing and submitting fictitious bonds to the U.S. government in payment of federal taxes.
Turner is alleged to have attempted to pay his own taxes with a fictitious $300 million bond and to have assisted others in attempting to pay their taxes with fictitious bonds purporting to be worth amounts ranging from $10 million to $100 billion.
An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Turner faces a maximum of 164 years in federal prison, a maximum fine of $2.35 million and mandatory restitution.
On Monday, Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel ruled that because Turner is a flight risk, he will be held in custody. A trial date in March 2013 has been set.
At Monday’s detention hearing, prosecutors argued Turner had a plan to flee the country, likely on a private jet, because of his inability to secure a passport. The case is being prosecuted by Justin Gelfand of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Middle District of Alabama Assistant U.S. Attorney Gray Borden.
While earlier court filings have suggested Turner has ties to violent sovereign groups across the country, no evidence was presented at Monday’s hearing that he was violent, and the court found he was not a danger to the community.
Turner, who has filed papers with the court attesting that he does not money to hire a lawyer, was appointed a lawyer by the court, Daleville, Ala. defense attorney Everett Urech.
For much of the hearing, Turner acted as his own lawyer, questioning witnesses while Urech observed. At the hearing’s end, Turner again asked that Urech remain as his appointed counsel.
Prosecutors allege that RuSA was created to serve as a shadow government, complete with its own court system. To serve RuSA’s law enforcement needs, it created a militant outreach of “rangers” who prosecutors say had the ability to execute arrest warrants to imprison those it targeted, and to use force, if necessary, under its own sovereign law.
Court records indicate that Turner and several others mailed out a warrant of their own making in March 2010 to Alabama Governor Bob Riley, calling on him to “resign within three days” of its receipt, and to direct the IRS to stop investigating of RuSA.
Defense witnesses told the court Monday that RuSA has approximately 20,000 members in North America, but that number has not been independently verified. In addition, testimony surfaced that Turner planned to recruit rangers from other militia groups.