Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ripple in Stillwater Updates

By Karl Bremer
A recent FBI bulletin regarding the "sovereign citizen" movement caught our eye here at Ripple in Stillwater. We reported extensively on local hate-radio celebrity and former "sovereign citizen" Bradley Dean Smith in 2010-11, and thought the FBI's renewed interest in this movement was worth an update.

Likewise, recent reports that the fraudster known as "Bobby Thompson" may now be in New Mexico should be of interest to those who followed my award-winning investigation into the Minnesota operations of "Bobby Thompson" and his fraudulent Navy Veterans charity.

The FBI and several states are taking the “sovereign citizen” movement a little more seriously these days. You might remember our own local “sovereign citizen”—Bradley Dean Smith, aka “Bradlee Dean,” of the Annandale-based hate “ministry” You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International. Dean, who was the subject of a Ripple in Stillwater investigation in 2010-11, renounced his "allegiance to the world" to become a “sovereign citizen” in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Smith’s “citizenship” in the Kingdom of Heaven was issued in November 2003 and expired in November 2010, according to his online Embassy of Heaven ID:

“On file is a signed statement by Bradley Smith renouncing allegiance to the world and declaring citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“We are fellow citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Government of God, which was handed to the Apostles by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper (Luke 22:29), We fulfill the Great Commission by traveling from place to place using old and modern conveyances. Our government is not of this world, and we expect to be held accountable to the laws from which we come. Our conduct is not an offense if it not an offense in the Kingdom of Heaven."
While Smith’s escapades with the Embassy of Heaven might sound loopy, the FBI has taking a more jaundiced look at the sovereign citizen movement recently.
“The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing,” says a September 2011 bulletin from the FBI’s Counterterrorism Analysis Section.

“They could be dismissed as a nuisance, a loose network of individuals living in the United States who call themselves “sovereign citizens” and believe that federal, state, and local governments operate illegally. Some of their actions, although quirky, are not crimes. The offenses they do commit seem minor: They do not pay their taxes and regularly create false license plates, driver’s licenses, and even currency.

“However, a closer look at sovereign citizens’ more severe crimes, from financial scams to impersonating or threatening law enforcement officials, gives reason for concern,” the report continues.

The FBI bulletin cites several instances where sovereign citizens resorted to violence and notes:

“Although the sovereign-citizen movement does not always rise to violence, its members’ illegal activities and past violent—including fatal—incidents against law enforcement make it a group that should be approached with knowledge and caution. It is important that law enforcement be aware of sovereign citizens’ tactics so agencies can warn the public of potential scams, spot illegal activity and understand its potential severity, and be prepared for and protect against violent behavior or backlash through intimidation and harassment.”

While Smith’s ugly, homophobic, on-air diatribes against gays often push the envelope, there is no record of any violent or illegal activity on behalf of or connected to You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International.

It’s not known whether Smith still has any affiliation with the Embassy of Heaven or any other sovereign citizen organization. He took legal action in 2008 to sever his ties with Glen Stoll of Edmonds, WA, who introduced Smith to the Embassy of Heaven and allegedly induced him to establish ministerial “trusts” under the auspices of his sovereign citizen organization, the Family Defense League. These trusts were described in Smith’s court filings as “false and fraudulent schemes” and “shams, devoid of economic substance.”

In March 2009, District Court Judge Stephen Halsey granted Smith’s church and organization, Old Paths Church, Inc. and YCR, Inc., their motion for a summary judgment against Stoll that terminated Stoll’s trusts and removed Stoll as trustee.

Nonetheless, the FBI’s September 2011 bulletin predicts:

“The sovereign-citizen threat likely will grow as the nationwide movement is fueled by the Internet, the economic downturn, and seminars held across the country that spread their ideology and show people how they can tap into funds and eliminate debt through fraudulent methods. As sovereign citizens’ numbers grow, so do the chances of contact with law enforcement and, thus, the risks that incidents will end in violence. Law enforcement and judicial officials must understand the sovereign-citizen movement, be able to identify indicators, and know how to protect themselves from the group’s threatening tactics.”

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International had a
recruiting and merchandise table at Michele Bachmann's
April 2010 fundraiser with half-term Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Bobby Thompson" and President George W. Bush
The noose may be tightening around the man known as “Bobby Thompson,” who led a fraudulent nationwide veterans’ charity that allegedly bilked thousands of donors out of tens of millions of dollars.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, whose original investigation revealed the elaborate charity scheme in 2010, U.S. Marshals are concentrating their search for “Thompson” in Albuquerque, NM. The owners of several of the con man’s stolen identities, including “Bobby Thompson,” reportedly had ties to Albuquerque or New Mexico.

Ripple in Stillwater’s award-winning investigation into “Thompson” found that the Minnesota operations of his phony U.S. Navy Veterans Association took in more than $1.5 million over a six-year period, with little more than a UPS drop box for a presence in  the state. Very little of the $1.5 million was ever accounted for.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office has conducted little, if any, investigation into “Thompson” or his scam, despite the fact that he has been the subject of numerous other state and national investigations. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board fined “Thompson” $21,000 for illegal campaign contributions as a result of an investigation of a complaint filed by Ripple in Stillwater.

In what clearly looks like a money-laundering and/or illegal campaign contribution scheme, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association collected millions from unsuspecting donors while “Thompson” gave thousands of dollars to Minnesota Republican politicians, including Michele Bachmann, the state GOP and other GOP political entities. His most recent donation in Minnesota was $5,000 to “Patriot PAC,” a political action committee formed by GOP operative Joey Gerdin.

Gerdin says she met the alleged con man in St. Paul at a fundraiser she hosted during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

“He seemed like a nice guy, completely congenial, supportive of veterans. Seemed like your typical patriot to me,” Gerdin told Ripple in Stillwater. She has since refused to talk about “Thompson,” or his $5,000 illegal contribution to her PAC.

For reasons yet unknown, “Thompson,” a Florida resident with no apparent Minnesota connections, showered tens of thousands of dollars on Minnesota Republican politicians and the Republican Party of Minnesota. Besides the $10,000 he gave to Bachmann and the $5,000 he gave to Patriot PAC, he made the following donations to other Minnesota Republicans and GOP entities:

• $21,500 to Republican Norm Coleman’s Senate re-election campaign from 2006-2008
• $7,000 to the Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee in 2008-2009
• $10,400 to the Republican Party of Minnesota from 2008-2010
• $500 to former Rep. Marty Seifert’s Seifert for Governor Campaign in 2009
• $500 to Republican David J. Carlson’s Citizens for David Carlson committee in House District 67B in 2008.

“Thompson” is currently wanted by several states and federal agencies for money laundering, fraud and identity theft.

Milk carton graphic: Ken Avidor


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    1. Is that you, Swiftee? Didn't think your parole was up yet. Don't let them catch you near a grade school -- you know what happened the last time they found you by one.

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      What do the Teanderthals think about this Michele Bachmann stimulus package?

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