An Alabama couple who considered themselves sovereign citizens — who required their tenants to pay rent in silver coins and buried $350,000 worth of gold coins in their backyard — were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and three counts of tax evasion on Friday.
Monty Ervin and Patricia Ervin, owners and managers of Southern Realty, amassed “hundreds of investment properties over the last decade, receiving more than $9 million in rental income,” but paid nothing in federal income taxes, according to the Justice Department.
First confronted by the Internal Revenue Service in 2006, the Ervins proclaimed that they weren’t subject to federal of state law. When the IRS started talking to people they knew, Monty Ervin allegedly sent correspondence to the IRS threatening a special agent with “jail time,” a “money penalty” and “dismissal from service.”
Their letters to the IRS — in which Patricia refers to herself as “a sovereign Most Christian Princess as certified by His Most Christian Majesty, Prince George, the Arch-Treasurer for ‘The United States of America’ in the Treaty of Paris of 1783” and Monty declares he’s “not a numbered member of the communitarian welfare benefit trust called Social Security Administration” — are embedded below:
The couple filed a number of documents in probate court that renounced their U.S. citizenship and had a licence plate affiliated with a sovereign citizens organization.
Both Ervins were indicted in February, but Monty Ervin wasn’t arrested until the U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force picked him up in Naples, Fla. He had a notebook on him that contained the latitude and longitude coordinates of an island off the coast of Honduras, said DOJ.
In order to hide their assets, the couple placed investment properties in the names of nominees — “trusts” and “trustees.” Said DOJ:
The “trustees” named on property deeds testified that they were not involved in the sale or purchase of the properties and that the Ervins “stamped” their signatures onto official property records. Patricia Ervin also structured deposits into Southern Realty’s bank account in an effort to evade federal currency reporting requirements.
Patricia Ervin is facing a maximum of 25 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million and Monty Ervin is is facing 20 years and a $1 million fine. Both are set to be sentenced on Jan. 23.
Here’s where Southern Reality was based: