Dateline: November 17, 2016

Missouri sovereign citizen sentenced to five years for $1 million tax-evasion scheme

Byline: Judy L. Thomas

A federal judge has sentenced a Missouri sovereign citizen to five years in prison without parole for a decadelong tax-evasion scheme that totaled nearly $1 million.

Harold R. Stanley, 62, of Peculiar was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark. Stanley was found guilty by a federal jury in June of tax evasion and attempting to obstruct or impede internal revenue laws. He faced a potential sentence of up to eight years in prison.

The Kansas City Star has written extensively about the sovereign citizen movement, including a series last year on domestic terrorism. Sometimes referred to as freemen, sovereign citizens believe the government is corrupt and out of control; therefore, they do not recognize local, state or federal authority. Authorities say the loosely organized movement, which has been around in various forms for decades, is in the midst of a major growth spurt and a surge in violence.

Evidence presented by prosecutors indicated that Stanley was an electrical engineer who made $971,604 working as a consultant from 2005 to 2009. Prosecutors said he failed to file tax returns in 2005 and 2006. From 2007 through 2009, they said, he filed returns but did not submit payment, and from 2010 through 2015 he filed no returns. The total that should have been paid in taxes from 2005 through 2015, prosecutors said, was $980,025.

“Stanley has participated in ‘sovereign citizens’ groups that believe the federal income tax system is voluntary and that they do not have to pay their fair share in taxes,” according to a statement issued by U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson.

Court documents said Stanley submitted fake money orders to the Internal Revenue Service as payment for his taxes and filled out papers with his name in all capital letters — a common sovereign citizen tactic.

After Stanley was arrested, he sued the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, an IRS employee and an assistant U.S. attorney, Dickinson’s statement said. The civil suit was dismissed in July. In its dismissal, the court wrote that by filing the lawsuit, Stanley had attempted “to throw a wrench into his criminal proceedings in the Western District of Missouri and re-present the same arguments that he had previously and unsuccessfully litigated in other federal courts.”

After the jury convicted Stanley in June, he filed a $55 million claim for damages against Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah W. Hays, Ketchmark and assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Becker.