Sovereign citizens: Nuisance or domestic terrorists?
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Sovereign citizens have been popping up in Las Vegas courts for years.
Former Clark County District Attorney David Roger saw their crimes run the gamut.
"A lot of it was just pure harassment. For example, we had one individual who had a warrant, or drafted a warrant for the arrest of a public official and we had to talk that person down off the cliff."
Roger says sovereign actions got so out of hand that back in 2003, the legislature amended a state statute to give the County Recorder authority to refuse documents they believe are fraudulent.
"Because part of their M.O. is to file false liens on people's property to harass them."
Sovereigns believe governments are illegal and laws don't apply to them.
The FBI says they don't pay their taxes and regularly create false license plates, driver's licenses, even currency.
A Contact 13 Investigation in 2008 exposed Larry Smith -- a sovereign who was later convicted in a large-scale real estate scam. He convinced victims to pay him to secure patents on their land so they could stop paying mortgage and avoid foreclosure.
"And then back of course in 2009 here in Las Vegas, a former FBI agent as well as three other individuals were indicted and charged with tax evasion and a money laundering scheme," recalls Roger.
The most notorious sovereign citizen with Las Vegas ties is Terry Nichols, who's serving a life sentence in federal prison for his role in helping to plot the Oklahoma City bombing.
"These are people who are articulate, they have very firm beliefs. Beliefs that I think are irrational, but when you listen to them and when you watch them, they appear to be rational in their own thoughts. It's just that their thoughts and feelings about government aren't consistent with the Constitution."
The FBI fears the sovereign citizen threat will grow as the movement is fueled by the Internet and seminars that held spread their ideology.
They're considered extremists operating as individuals without established leadership.