The Voice • June 2017
After a yearlong investigation, ten members of a sovereign citizen movement located in east Tennessee are being jointly prosecuted and are collectively being charged with 320 counts of criminal indictment. The individuals have been brought up with charges for filing fraudulent liens and forgery, both of which are felonies and can bring possible jail time. A special prosecutor will be handling the case in Nashville.
The investigation was pinpointed as starting with the arrest of Lee Harold Cromwell. Cromwell had been involved in a reckless driving incident where he drove his vehicle backward, striking several individuals and killing a man in the summer of 2015. After the arrest, Cromwell began filing liens for millions of dollars against the arresting officer, the prosecutor, and the judge who ruled over the case.
The investigation was conducted jointly by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. Their findings were that Cromwell, along with the other nine individuals, had been filing bogus liens ranging from $4 million to $12 million. All totaled, more than two billion dollars in liens were filed against appointed city and state government officials. These acts of “paper-terrorism” were committed primarily to complicate the victims’ lives.
Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State, said the following, “these arrests send a clear message, public officials as well as state and local government employees shouldn’t be harassed with fraudulent liens just for doing their jobs.” Hargett is currently advocating for new legislation that would make it easier to purge bogus liens and to also hold the sovereign citizen accountable for any resulting legal costs.