Member of Anti-Government Movement Convicted of Money Laundering Following Trial Before U.S. District Judge Mahan
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 24, 2012|
LAS VEGAS—A member of an anti-government movement known as the “Sovereign Movement” was convicted today of conspiracy and money laundering charges following a two-day trial before U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Shawn Rice, 49, of Seligman, Arizona, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, 13 counts of money laundering, and four counts of failure to appear. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 24, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy and money laundering counts and 10 years consecutive in prison on each failure to appear count.
According to the evidence introduced at trial, from about March 2008 to March 2009, Rice and co-defendant Samuel Davis, 57, of Council, Idaho, laundered approximately $1.3 million that they thought was from the theft and forgery of stolen official bank checks. Rice and Davis laundered the money through a nominee trust account controlled by Davis and through an account of a purported religious organization controlled by Rice. Davis and Rice took approximately $74,000 and $22,000, respectively, in fees for their money laundering services.
Rice and Davis were originally charged in March 2009. Rice failed to make required court appearances in the case on March 8 and March 9, 2010, and was a fugitive for almost two years before he was re-arrested in December 2011.
Davis pleaded guilty in March 2011 and was sentenced in October 2011 to 57 months in prison. Davis failed to self-report to federal prison in June 2012 and is currently a fugitive.
Davis and Rice are heavily involved in the “Sovereign Movement,” an extreme anti-government organization whose members attempt to disrupt and overthrow government and other forms of authority by using “paper terrorism” tactics, intimidation and harassment, and violence. Members believe they do not have to pay taxes and believe the federal government deceived Americans into obtaining Social Security cards, driver’s licenses, car registrations, and wedding licenses, etc., and that if these contracts are revoked, persons are “sovereign citizens.” Members of the sovereign movement also believe that U.S. currency is invalid. They widely use fictitious financial instruments such as fraudulent money orders, personal checks, and sight drafts, and participate in “redemption” schemes where the fictitious financial instruments are used to pay creditors. Davis is a national leader of the movement, traveling nationwide to teach different theories and ideologies of the movement. Rice allegedly claims that he is a lawyer and Rabbi, and uses his law school education and businesses to promote his sovereign ideas and to gain credibility in the community.
The case was investigated by the FBI-led Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force, which also includes ATF, Henderson Police Department, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada Department of Public Safety, North Las Vegas Police Department, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Nevada; Council, Idaho; and Flagstaff and Seligman, Arizona.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Gregory Damm and Nicholas D. Dickinson.