A sovereign citizen leader and purported Rabbi was arrested after a standoff with police in Arizona, after he failed to appear in court to face charges for a $1.3 million money laundering scheme.
According to a press release from the FBI, Shawn Rice had barricaded himself in a residence in Seligman, Arizona on Thursday with his wife and two children, and refused to come out. After several hours of negotiating with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Rice eventually did come out and was arrested without incident.
Rice had previously been indicted in March 2009 for conspiracy to commit money laundering and 30 counts of money laundering. Federal officials said the most recent arrest was over his failure to appear in court in connection with those charges, the The Daily Courier reports.
“After his arrest and initial appearance on these charges, Rice was released pending further court proceedings,” said Special Agent Patrick S. Turner. “Rice subsequently failed to appear at four separate court proceedings.”
Rice is also facing a weapons charge.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Rice is what’s called a “guru,” the closest thing the sovereign citizen movement has to a leader. He also purports to be a lawyer and a Rabbi.
Rice’s co-defendant, Samuel Davis, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison with three years of supervised release in October, after pleading guilty to the $1.3 million money laundering scheme. At the time of the plea Rice was still considered a fugitive.
Davis was also ordered to pay $95,782 restitution to the government, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The charges were brought after a three-year undercover FBI sting.
Davis called himself “I Am Sam” in court documents, and after pleading guilty claimed that FBI agents “devised a scheme of entrapment and inducement targeting [him] under the pretext of friendship, and deception of lies,” according to the Review-Journal.
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Davis as an ‘elder’ in the Guardians of the Free Republics, “a group that in 2010 fruitlessly demanded that all 50 governors step down.” According to the SPLC, he also “hosted seminars promulgating the so-called ‘redemption’ scam, a bizarre technique that supposedly allows participants to tap into huge amounts of cash that the government is thought to keep in their name.”
Davis has an extensive number of videos on YouTube to promote his sovereign citizen ideology. Here’s the first of three ten minute videos from 2001 (though the production values more closely resemble those of the 1980s), in which Davis talking about “collateralizing America” for his Status is Freedom website. “We all recognize that there’s something wrong in our country,” Davis says. “And I’m not here to say there’s this conspiracy and that conspiracy — although I hold a few conspiracy theories.”
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