Inside The Life Of A Sovereign Citizen
By Ben Hall
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- He's a 69-year-old veteran who says he is no longer an American citizen.
"I am an American sovereign of the Republic of the United States of America," said Hollis Fay Summers. "I do know there's a lot of us."
He is part of a growing movement that the FBI labels domestic terrorism, but Summers said he is not violent.
"I am strictly for doing what I believe is right under the constitution," said Summers.
Summers lives in Union County, Tennessee. He became a sovereign four years ago after attending a seminar in Alabama.
Sovereigns believe you can separate yourself from government control and access secret government accounts by filing the right paperwork in court.
Summers is now in a battle with his bank which claims he is living in his home illegally.
He admitted he hasn't paid a mortgage in at least three years, but claims he paid off the loan in full, using money from his secret government account.
"I paid for the house, that's all I'll say about it. The house is paid for in full," Summers said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates responded, "But the bank doesn't say that."
Summers said, "Well they agreed to it."
He claimed the bank agreed to it because it did not respond to papers he filed in court announcing he paid off the loan.
Sovereigns wage most of their battles in court by filing numerous court documents.
"That's the court papers I've got ready to file tomorrow," Summers said as he showed us his office.
He spends hours each day typing thousands of pages.
Retired federal ATF agent James Cavanaugh spent his career monitoring anti-government groups like sovereigns.
"Sovereigns are people who operate on the lunatic fringe of America," Cavanaugh said.
He said sovereigns' anti-government message has lead to dangerous confrontations with law enforcement.
But their constant court filings cause enormous problems across the country.
"This clogs up the courts and takes time from government employees. Lawyers have got to say this is nothing. This is frivolous," Cavanaugh said.
One of Summers' court filings actually attempts to change the definition of the word "frivolous."
He claims that, in his sovereign language, frivolous really means "true and correct."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "If somebody says this is crazy, what do you say?"
Summers responded, "Read it and see."
When you read what he has filed at the Register of Deeds office in Nashville, you find several billion-dollar liens against people involved in his foreclosure, including the bank president and realtor.
"It makes them think twice before they come after your house," said Summers.
The liens are usually dismissed as frivolous, but they can take time and money to remove.
"This is retribution. This is paper terrorism," said Cavanaugh. "He's going to do something to you."
Summers admits he's been interviewed by the FBI but says they are leaving him alone.
"We're not a paper terrorist group. We're not a political group. We're not a subversive group," Summers said.
His problems with the bank aren't going away. Our interview was interrupted by a loud noise outside. It turned out to be a large dumpster sent by the bank.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "From your point of view do they have the right to put that dumpster there?"
Summers responded, "Since it's under appeal in Superior Court, they have no right to do anything. Everything is cease and desist until it's over."
Like sovereigns across the country, Summers will keep filing court documents believing he can beat the system.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "How much longer do you think you'll be able to stay in your house?"
Summers responded, "I don't plan on leaving. I haven't packed my bags yet."