A member of an anti-government movement known as the "Sovereign Movement," has been sentenced to 98 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a money laundering conspiracy.
Shawn Rice, 50, of Seligman, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan., and ordered to forfeit $1.29 million in assets and pay $95,782 in restitution for his conviction on conspiracy and money laundering crimes, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada. Rice was convicted by a jury in July 2012 of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, 13 counts of money laundering, and four counts of failure to appear.
"Persons who commit financial crimes victimize organizations, government and the public," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Our office and our federal partners will work jointly with local and state law enforcement to ensure that these persons are caught and prosecuted."
"The FBI deserves a lot of credit for bringing this case to fruition," said Paul Camacho, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation for Nevada. "There was an element of greed to Mr. Rice's crimes. As with most cases we see, it is greed that gets people in trouble."
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 of monies that they thought were from the theft and forgery of stolen official bank checks. Rice and Davis laundered the monies 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 and was sentenced in October 2011 to 57 months in prison. Davis failed to self-report to federal prison, and was arrested in August 2012 in Stanley, South Dakota. Davis was charged and convicted of violating his conditions of release and failing to self-surrender, and sentenced to an additional eight months in prison, consecutive to the 57 months imposed in October 2011.
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.