South Carolina man sentenced in ‘Sovereign Citizen’ scheme

May 17, 2019 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for defrauding people through a “sovereign citizen” scheme.

The U.S. Department of Justice says 53-year-old Ronald Allen Wright was sentenced this week in the scheme that took more than $140,000 from several people between 2013 and 2015. He was convicted on charges of tax fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

A DOJ release says Wright owned a Columbia-based financial services business and would contact people experiencing financial trouble, especially those struggling with foreclosure. It says clients were told their debt could be eradicated by making financial claims on their birth certificates. It says this belief stems from sovereign citizen ideology, which says debts can be paid by accessing secret government bank accounts.